What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy, or "chemical treatment," has been around since the days of the ancient
Greeks. However, chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer began in the 1940s with
the use of nitrogen mustard. Since then, in the attempt to discover what is effective
in chemotherapy, many new drugs have been developed and tried.
Sometimes referred to simply as "chemo", chemotherapy is used most often to describe
drugs that kill cancer cells directly. These are sometimes referred to as "anti-cancer"
drugs or "antineoplastics." Other chemo drugs such as biologic response modifiers,
hormone therapy, and monoclonal antibodies, which work in different ways to treat
cancer, are included in this web-site. Today's therapy uses more than 100 drugs
to treat cancer. There are even more chemo drugs still under development and
What is Chemotherapy Used For?
Since cancer is a word used to describe many different diseases, there is no one
type of treatment that is used universally. Chemotherapy is used for a variety of
- To cure a specific cancer;
- To control tumor growth when cure is not possible;
- To shrink tumors before surgery or radiation therapy;
- To relieve symptoms (such as pain); and
- To destroy microscopic cancer cells that may be present after the known tumor is removed by surgery (called adjuvant therapy). Adjuvant therapy is given to prevent a possible cancer reoccurrence.
More Chemotherapy Information:
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
Short & Long Term Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Cancer Clinical Trials