Chemotherapy is a process in which different medications and drugs are used for killing cancer cells. More than 50 different drugs / medications are used in this process and it is aimed at preventing cancer cells from growing, multiplying and disseminating. The different drugs can either be used alone or in combination with each other, based on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s health condition. The duration of the treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the condition of the patient and the type of the cancer.

Why is it used?

Chemotherapy is often used for different purposes, depending on stage and type of cancer:

  • For curing cancer – by killing the cancerous cells, the tumor can be disappeared, thus curing cancer.
  • For controlling cancer – it can also be used to control the spread of malignant cells that eventually cause cancer.
  • Palliative – to help patients deal with different symptoms of cancer like pain.

How is it given?

The drugs that constitute the process of chemotherapy can be given in different forms such as:

  • Alkylating agents like cisplatin, , chlorambucil, carboplatin busulfan
  • Nitrosoureas like carmustine and lomustine
  • Antimetabolites
  • Antitumour antibiotics like doxorubicin or, mitoxantrone
  • Mitotic inhibitors like paclitaxel and docetaxel

Apart from these drugs chemotherapy can also be administered as immunotherapy in which, different drugs help in improving the immune system of the patient, so that the patient’s body can kill the cancerous cells on its own.

Side effects of Chemotherapy

Different side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea or vomiting sensation.
  • Loss of air.
  • Acute pain.
  • Anemia or lack of blood.
  • Infections, which are caused by the use of different drugs.
  • Problems with clotting of blood and
  • Gastrointestinal problems like constipation or diarrhea etc.