Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that destroys fast-growing cells in your body using strong chemicals.

Chemotherapy is most commonly used to treat cancer because the development and proliferation of cancer cells is much quicker than that of most cells in the body.
There are several distinct chemotherapy drugs available. To treat a wide range of tumors, chemotherapy medications may be used alone or in combination.

Though chemotherapy is an effective way to treat many forms of cancer, there is also a chance of side effects from chemotherapy treatment. Some side effects from chemotherapy are mild and treatable, while others can cause severe complications.

Why is chemotherapy given?

In individuals with cancer, chemotherapy is used to destroy cancer cells.

In people with cancer, there are a range of settings in which chemotherapy may be used:

  • Without other drugs to cure cancer.
  • As the main or sole cure for cancer, chemotherapy may be used.
  • To suppress secret cancer cells after other therapies.
  • After other procedures, such as surgery, chemotherapy may be used to destroy any cancer cells that may linger in the body. Doctors call it adjuvant care.

To help you prepare for other treatments. To shrink a tumor, chemotherapy should be used such that other therapies, such as radiation and surgery, are feasible. Doctors call it neoadjuvant care.
Signs and symptoms to ease them. By killing some of the cancer cells, chemotherapy can help alleviate the signs and symptoms of cancer. Doctors call this chemotherapy palliative.

How does Chemotherapy work against Cancer?

Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. Chemotherapy is used to:

  • Treat cancer
    Chemotherapy can be used to cure cancer, lessen the chance it will return, or stop or slow its growth.
  • Ease cancer symptoms
    Chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors that are causing pain and other problems.

Who receives chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer. For some people, chemotherapy may be the only treatment you receive. But most often, you will have chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depends on the type of cancer you have, if it has spread and where, and if you have other health problems.

How chemotherapy is used with other cancer treatments?

When used with other treatments, chemotherapy can:

  • Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Destroy cancer cells that may remain after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Help other treatments work better.
  • Kill cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.

Chemotherapy can cause side effects

Chemotherapy not only kills fast-growing cancer cells but also kills or slows the growth of healthy cells that grow and divide quickly. Examples are cells that line your mouth and intestines and those that cause your hair to grow. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects, such as mouth sores, nausea, and hair loss. Side effects often get better or go away after you have finished chemotherapy.

The most common side effect is fatigue, which is feeling exhausted and worn out. You can prepare for fatigue by:

  • Asking someone to drive you to and from chemotherapy
  • Planning time to rest on the day of and day after chemotherapy
  • Asking for help with meals and childcare on the day of and at least one day after chemotherapy

There are many ways you can help manage chemotherapy side effects. For more information, see the section on side effects.

How much chemotherapy costs?

The cost of chemotherapy depends on:

  • The types and doses of chemotherapy used
  • How long and how often chemotherapy is given
  • Whether you get chemotherapy at home, in a clinic or office, or during a hospital stay
  • The part of the country where you live

Talk with your health insurance company about what services it will pay for. Most insurance plans pay for chemotherapy. To learn more, talk with the business office where you go for treatment.

How chemotherapy is given?

Chemotherapy may be given in many ways. Some common ways include:

  • Oral
    The chemotherapy comes in pills, capsules, or liquids that you swallow
  • Intravenous (IV)
    The chemotherapy goes directly into a vein
  • Injection
    The chemotherapy is given by a shot in a muscle in your arm, thigh, or hip, or right under the skin in the fatty part of your arm, leg, or belly
  • Intrathecal
    The chemotherapy is injected into the space between the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord
  • Intraperitoneal (IP)
    The chemotherapy goes directly into the peritoneal cavity, which is the area in your body that contains organs such as your intestines, stomach, and liver
  • Intra-arterial (IA)
    The chemotherapy is injected directly into the artery that leads to the cancer
  • Topical
    The chemotherapy comes in a cream that you rub onto your skin

Chemotherapy is often given through a thin needle that is placed in a vein on your hand or lower arm. Your nurse will put the needle in at the start of each treatment and remove it when treatment is over. IV chemotherapy may also be given through catheters or ports, sometimes with the help of a pump.

  • Catheter
    A catheter is a thin, soft tube. A doctor or nurse places one end of the catheter in a large vein, often in your chest area. The other end of the catheter stays outside your body. Most catheters stay in place until you have finished your chemotherapy treatments. Catheters can also be used to give you other drugs and to draw blood. Be sure to watch for signs of infection around your catheter. See the section about infection for more information.
  • Port
    A port is a small, round disc that is placed under your skin during minor surgery. A surgeon puts it in place before you begin your course of treatment, and it remains there until you have finished. A catheter connects the port to a large vein, most often in your chest. Your nurse can insert a needle into your port to give you chemotherapy or draw blood. This needle can be left in place for chemotherapy treatments that are given for longer than one day. Be sure to watch for signs of infection around your port. See the section about infection for more information.
  • Pump
    Pumps are often attached to catheters or ports. They control how much and how fast chemotherapy goes into a catheter or port, allowing you to receive your chemotherapy outside of the hospital. Pumps can be internal or external. External pumps remain outside your body. Internal pumps are placed under your skin during surgery.

How does doctor decide which chemotherapy drugs to give you?

There are many different chemotherapy drugs. Which ones are included in your treatment plan depends mostly on:

  • The type of cancer you have and how advanced it is
  • Whether you have had chemotherapy before
  • Whether you have other health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Where to go for chemotherapy?

You may receive chemotherapy during a hospital stay, at home, or as an outpatient at a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. Outpatient means you do not stay overnight. No matter where you go for chemotherapy, your doctor and nurse will watch for side effects and help you manage them. For more information on side effects and how to manage them, see the section on side effects.

How often you receive chemotherapy?

Treatment schedules for chemotherapy vary widely. How often and how long you get chemotherapy depends on:

  • Your type of cancer and how advanced it is
  • Whether chemotherapy is used to:
    • Cure your cancer
    • Control its growth
    • Ease symptoms
  • The type of chemotherapy you are getting
  • How your body responds to the chemotherapy

You may receive chemotherapy in cycles. A cycle is a period of chemotherapy treatment followed by a period of rest. For instance, you might receive chemotherapy every day for 1 week followed by 3 weeks with no chemotherapy. These 4 weeks make up one cycle. The rest period gives your body a chance to recover and build new healthy cells.

Missing a chemotherapy treatment

It is best not to skip chemotherapy treatment. But, sometimes your doctor may change your chemotherapy schedule if you are having certain side effects. If this happens, your doctor or nurse will explain what to do and when to start treatment again.

How chemotherapy may affect you?

Chemotherapy affects people in different ways. How you feel depends on:

  • The type of chemotherapy you are getting
  • The dose of chemotherapy you are getting
  • Your type of cancer
  • How advanced your cancer is
  • How healthy you are before treatment

Since everyone is different and people respond to chemotherapy in different ways, your doctor and nurses cannot know for sure how you will feel during chemotherapy.

How will I know if my chemotherapy is working?

You will see your doctor often. During these visits, she will ask you how you feel, do a physical exam, and order medical tests and scans. Tests might include blood tests. Scans might include MRI, CT, or PET scans.

You cannot tell if chemotherapy is working based on its side effects. Some people think that severe side effects mean that chemotherapy is working well, or that no side effects mean that chemotherapy is not working. The truth is that side effects have nothing to do with how well chemotherapy is fighting your cancer.

Special diet during chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can damage the healthy cells that line your mouth and intestines and cause eating problems. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have trouble eating while you are receiving chemotherapy. You might also find it helpful to speak with a dietitian. For more information about coping with eating problems see the booklet Eating Hints or the section on side effects.

Working during chemotherapy

Many people can work during chemotherapy, as long as they match their work schedule to how they feel. Whether or not you can work may depend on what kind of job you have. If your job allows, you may want to see if you can work part-time or from home on days you do not feel well.
Many employers are required by law to change your work schedule to meet your needs during cancer treatment. Talk with your employer about ways to adjust your work during chemotherapy. You can learn more about these laws by talking with a social worker.

How to prepare for chemotherapy?

How you plan for chemotherapy depends on the medications you are going to receive and how they will be given. You will be given detailed instructions from your doctor to prepare for your chemotherapy treatments. You would need:

Until intravenous chemotherapy, have a system surgically implanted. Your doctor may prescribe a tube, such as a catheter, port or pump, if you are receiving your chemotherapy intravenously in a vein. The catheter or other device, normally in your chest, is surgically inserted into a large vein. Through the system, chemotherapy drugs can be given.

To ensure the body is able to receive chemotherapy, perform tests and procedures. Blood tests to check the functions of the kidney and liver and heart tests to check the health of the heart will decide whether the body is ready to start chemotherapy. Your doctor can postpone your treatment if there is a problem or choose a different chemotherapy drug and dosage that is safer for you.

See a dentist. Your doctor may recommend that your teeth be examined for signs of infection by a dentist. Treating existing infections may lower the risk of complications during treatment with chemotherapy, as some chemotherapy may decrease the ability of your body to combat infections.

For side effects, plan accordingly. Tell your doctor what side effects to expect and make suitable preparations before and after chemotherapy. For instance, you might want to explore your options for saving your sperm or eggs for potential use if your chemotherapy treatment may cause infertility. If your chemotherapy is going to cause hair loss, consider planning to cover your head.

Have a family member or friend drive you to your first treatment. Many individuals will travel to and from chemotherapy sessions themselves. But you can find that the drug makes you tired for the first time or induces other side effects that make it difficult to drive.

Make plans to provide support at home and at work. In an outpatient clinic, most chemotherapy treatments are given, which ensures that most individuals are able to continue working and performing their normal activities during chemotherapy. In general, the doctor will tell you how much your daily behaviors will be affected by chemotherapy, but it’s hard to predict exactly how you’ll feel.

Ask your doctor if after treatment, you’ll need time off work or support in your house. Ask your doctor for your chemotherapy treatment information so that you can make plans for work, kids, pets or other responsibilities.

Have a family member or friend drive you to your first treatment. Many individuals will travel to and from chemotherapy sessions themselves. But you can find that the drug makes you tired for the first time or induces other side effects that make it difficult to drive.

How chemotherapy is administered?

Drugs for chemotherapy may be administered in numerous ways, including:

Infusions of chemotherapy : Very commonly, chemotherapy is offered as an injection into a vein (intravenously). The medications can be delivered by inserting a needle tube into a vein in your arm or into a chest vein system.

Pills for Chemotherapy : It is possible to take certain chemotherapy drugs in pill or capsule form.

Shots for chemotherapy : It is possible to administer chemotherapy medications with a needle, just like you might obtain a shot.

Creams for chemotherapy : To treat some forms of skin cancer, creams or gels containing chemotherapy drugs may be applied to the skin.

Chemotherapy medications are used in the treatment of one area of the body. It is possible to send chemotherapy drugs directly to one part of the body. Chemotherapy medications may be delivered directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy), the chest cavity (intrapleural chemotherapy) or the central nervous system, for example (intrathecal chemotherapy).

Risks & side-effects of chemotherapy

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Pain
  • Constipation
  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding

Long term side-effects of chemotherapy

Side effects that do not become noticeable until months or years after treatment can also be caused by chemotherapy drugs. Depending on the chemotherapy drug, late side effects vary, but can include:

  • Lung Tissue Injury
  • Problems with the heart
  • For infertility
  • Problems with the kidney
  • Harm to nerves (peripheral neuropathy)
  • Chance of having a second cancer

List of approved chemotherapy drugs as of 2020

Alkylating agents

Bifunctional alkylators


Monofunctional alkylators




Cytoskeletal disruptors (taxanes)



Histone deacetylase inhibitors

Inhibitors of topoisomerase I


Inhibitors of topoisomerase II


Kinase inhibitors


Nucleotide analogs and precursor analogs

Tioguanine (formerly Thioguanine)

Peptide antibiotics


Platinum-based agents




Vinca alkaloids and derivatives



For details on chemotherapy treatment do call us at +91 96 1588 1588 or write to

Start chat
We Are Online! Chat With Us!
Scan the code

Welcome to CancerFax !

CancerFax is a pioneering platform dedicated to connecting individuals facing advanced-stage cancer with groundbreaking cell therapies like CAR T-Cell therapy, TIL therapy, and clinical trials worldwide.

Let us know what we can do for you.

1) Cancer treatment abroad?
2) CAR T-Cell therapy
3) Cancer vaccine
4) Online video consultation
5) Proton therapy