Chemotherapy

Our Approach to Treatment

Chemotherapy involves use of powerful drugs to shrink or kill cancer cells. It is tailored to treat your specific type and cancer stage. Delivery methods include:

 

  • Intravenous (IV) medication – the most common chemotherapy. Medication is directly injected (infused) into a vein through an IV
  • Oral medication – taken as a pill at home
  • Topical cream or lotion – a cream to rub on cancerous skin
  • Direct placement – may be injected into the spinal fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) or into the brain using a device placed under the scalp

Chemotherapy Types

  • Targeted chemotherapy – uses drugs to attack certain cancer cell parts needed for growth and development. Two main targeted therapy drugs are:
    • Antibody drugs – derived from immune system proteins. The body makes antibodies to fight germs, which also can be used to target cancer cells
    • Small-molecule drugs – attach to specific cancer cell areas, resulting in fewer side effects because they do not attach to normal cells
  • Enzyme inhibitors – block cell signals to prevent cancer growth
  • Apoptosis-inducing drugs – therapies designed to trigger cancer cell death. Some targeted therapies change cancer cell proteins to induce cell destruction
  • Angiogenesis inhibitors – used to stop tumors from making new blood vessels that feed them 

 

Chemotherapy Side Effects

  • Fatigue
  • Higher infection risk
  • Fever 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Low platelet counts that can lead to bleeding problems
  • Irritation or mouth sores (mucositis)
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Hair loss (alopecia) over the body
  • Skin and nail bed changes
  • Menstrual irregularities or menses cessation
  • Concentration or short-term memory problems