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On May 28, 2017
Last modified:June 5, 2017


Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease. But to more persons, the word chemotherapy means drugs used for cancer treatment. It’s often shortened to “chemo.”

How Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer

Surgery and radiation therapy removed, kill, or finished the cancer cells in a certain part, however, chemo can work throughout the all the body. This meant chemo can finish cancer cells this has spread (metastasized) to parts of the body far away from the original (primary) tumor.

Chemotherapy Treatment Goals

Your doctors recommended chemotherapy to treatment your cancer, it’s more important to think the goals of treating when making treatment decided. There are 3 major steps for chemotherapy (chemo) in cancer treatment:

  • Cure
  • Control
  • Palliation
  • Cure

If possible, chemo is work to cure cancer, meaning that the cancer is finished – it goes away and doesn’t will back.

More doctors don’t use the word “cure” except as a possibility or intention. So, when starting medication that has a chance of curing a person who has cancer, the doctor may describe it as treatments with curative intent.

How Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer - National Cancer Institute

There are no guarantees, and by cure may be the purpose, it doesn’t always work out that way. It often takes more years to know if a person’s cancer is reality cured.


If a cure is not possible, the goal may be to control the disease. Chemo is used to shrink tumors and/or stop cancer from growing and spreading. This can help the person with cancer feeling better and live a long time.

In more cases see, cancer doesn’t complete go away but is controlled and managed as a chronic disease, much see heart disease or diabetes. In other cases see, cancer may even seem to have gone for a few, but it’s expected to back come. Then chemo can be given again.


Chemo can be the uses to ease symptoms caused by cancer. This is called palliative chemotherapy or palliation.

When the cancer is at an advanced step, meaning it’s not under control and has spread from where it starts to another area of the body, the goal may be to update the quality of life or help the person feeling better. For instance, chemo may be used to help shrink a tumor that’s causing pain or pressure.

How Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer – National Cancer Institute

It’s important to know that any treatment that’s used to increase symptoms or improved comforts is called palliative care. For example, anti-nausea treatment or pain medicines are palliative and can be used at all steps of treatment. It can be confusing when chemo is used as a palliative treatment because it’s more used to try to cure or control cancer. But when it’s used with the goal of relaxing, chemo becomes palliative care.

Chemotherapy Treatments Planning

You and your cancer doctor, called an oncologist, will decide what drug or combination of drugs you will get. Your doctor will select the doses, how the drugs will be given, and how often and how long type you’ll get treatment. All of these decisions will depend on the types of cancer, where it is, how long it is, and how it affects your normally body functions and all over the health.

How Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer - National Cancer Institute

Cancer can be treated with a single chemo drug, but often several drugs are used in a certain order or in certain combinations (called combination chemotherapy). Another drug that works in other ways can together work to finish many cancer cells. This can help less the chance that cancer may become resistant to any 1 chemo drug.

Sometimes chemo is the only treatment you required. More often, chemo is used with surgery or radiation therapy or both. Here’s why:

Chemo may be used to shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy. Chemo used in this way is called neoadjuvant therapy.

It may be used after of the surgery or radiation therapy to help finish any available cancer cells. Chemo used in this type is called adjuvant therapy.

It may be used with others treatments your cancer comes back.

Determining Which Chemotherapy Drugs to Use

In some cases, the best choice of doses and schedules for each chemo drug is clear, and more doctors would recommend the as it is treatment. In other cases check also that less may be known about the single best type of treated person with certain type and steps of cancer. In these cases, other doctors may choose others drug combinations with other schedules.

Factors to consider when choosing which drugs to use include:

  • The condition of cancer
  • The steps of cancer (how far it has spread)
  • The patient’s age
  • The patient’s health situation
  • Other sensitive health problems (such as heart, liver, or kidney diseases)
  • Steps of cancer treatments given in the past

Doctors get these factors into account, along with detail published in medical journals and textbooks describing the outcomes of similar patient’s treatment with chemo.

Chemotherapy Doses

More chemotherapy (chemo) drugs are strong medicines that have a fairly narrow range for dose safety and effectiveness. Taking too short of a drug will not treat cancer well and get too much may cause life-threatening side effects. For this reason, doctors must calculate chemo doses very precisely.

How Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer - National Cancer Institute

Depending on the drug(s) to be given, there are many ways to experiments chemo doses. More chemo drugs are measured in milligrams (mg).

The overall dose may be based on a person’s body weight in Kilograms (1 Kilogram is 2.2 Pounds). For instance, if the standard dose of a drug is 10 Milligrams per kilogram (10 Mg / Kg), a person weighing 110 Pounds (50 Kilograms) would get 500 Mg (10 Mg / Kg x 50 Kg).

Few chemo doses are determined based on body surface part (BSA), which are counting using height and weight. BSA is expressed in meters squared (M2).

Because children’s bodies working drugs other type, dosages for children and adults differ, even after BSA is taking into calculating. Children may have other levels of sensitive to the drugs, too. For the same to same reasons, dosages of some drugs may also be adjusted for persons who:

  • Are elderly
  • Have poor nutritional status
  • Are obese
  • Have before taken or are currently get other medicines
  • Have before had or are currently taking radiation therapy
  • Have low blood cell counts
  • Have liver or kidney diseases