Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Chemotherapy Terms

Chemotherapy encompasses a wide variety of therapy treatments.  Terms such as "adjuvant," "neoadjuvant," "consolidation," and "palliative" often add to the confusion surrounding chemotherapy if not properly defined and explained.  The purpose of this page is to increase the level of understanding about various chemotherapy protocols currently used.

Adjuvant chemotherapy - Chemotherapy given to destroy left-over (microscopic) cells that may be present after the known tumor is removed by surgery.  Adjuvant chemotherapy is given to prevent a possible cancer reoccurrence. 

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy - Chemotherapy given prior to the surgical procedure.  Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be given to attempt to shrink the cancer so that the surgical procedure may not need to be as extensive.

Induction chemotherapy - Chemotherapy given to induce a remission.  This term is commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.

Consolidation chemotherapy - Chemotherapy given once a remission is achieved.  The goal of this therapy is to sustain a remission.  Consolidation chemotherapy may also be called intensification therapy.  This term is commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.

Maintenance chemotherapy - Chemotherapy given in lower doses to assist in prolonging a remission.  Maintenance chemotherapy is used only for certain types of cancer, most commonly acute lymphocytic leukemias and acute promyelocytic leukemias.

First line chemotherapy - Chemotherapy that has, through research studies and clinical trials, been determined to have the best probability of treating a given cancer.  This may also be called standard therapy.

Second line chemotherapy - Chemotherapy that is given if a disease has not responded or reoccurred after first line chemotherapy.  Second line chemotherapy has, through research studies and clinical trials, been determined to be effective in treating a given cancer that has not responded or reoccurred after standard chemotherapy.  In some cases, this may also be referred to as salvage therapy.

Palliative chemotherapy - Palliative is a type of chemotherapy that is given specifically to address symptom management without expecting to significantly reduce the cancer

More Chemotherapy Information: 

Chemotherapy Terms Chemotherapy Protocols - How Chemotherapy Works How Chemotherapy Is Given How Doctors Decide Which Chemotherapy Drugs To Give How Long Chemotherapy Is Given How To Tell If Chemotherapy Is Working Cancer Cells & Chemotherapy Types of Chemotherapy Targeted Therapy The Immune System About Immunotherapy Hormone Therapy Chemoporotective Agents Chemotherapy Resistance Short & Long Term Side Effects of Chemotherapy Nadir Cancer Clinical Trials is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit