UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

Chemotherapy

What Is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs. It can be used to cure the cancer, control the cancer, and/or relieve the symptoms that cancer may cause. Chemotherapy may be given through your veins and/or by mouth.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or reproducing. At the same time healthy cells can be harmed, especially those cells that reproduce rapidly, causing side effects. Typically these healthy cells repair themselves after the chemotherapy is complete.

Other Treatments

Other types of drugs that may be used to treat cancer include those that block the effect of your body's hormones. For example, many women with breast cancer have been treated with the pill tamoxifen, which blocks how estrogen acts in the body. Another type of drug, called "biological" agents, actually boost your body's own immune system, or help the body repair cells destroyed by chemotherapy.

The medical oncologist is the physician who will recommend a treatment plan utilizing the drugs that may be most effective for the cancer you have. Factors the medical oncologist will consider are: what kind of cancer you have, where in the body the cancer is found, the effect of the cancer on your normal body functions, and your general health.