Chemotherapy also known as “chemical treatment”, sometimes called “chemo”, is the first line of therapy for patients diagnosed with cancer. It is not specific to a certain type of cancer rather it caters to Stage 1 and Stage 2 Cancer wherein cancer cells are localized, and cancer cells that have metastasized throughout the whole body. Chemotherapy refers to the treatment that makes use of as anti- cancer drugs or antineoplastic agents which means it combats and directly destroys cancer cells of the body. The treatment is much effective when the tumor is small and growing rapidly, a time when a relatively high proportion of cells are undergoing division. During this time, tumor cells are more sensitive to chemotherapeutic agents that are toxic to dividing cells.

Chemotherapy may provide as curative or palliative care, or have negligible or uncertain effects depending on the cancer type. Advances in knowledge and science of cancer growth and chemotherapeutic agents have led to concomitant advances in cancer treatment. Improvement in overall survival and longer disease-free intervals can be directly ascribed to the use of chemotherapeutic agents, particularly in combination chemotherapy regimen and as adjuvant therapy.

The following are the main benefits/ advantages of chemotherapy:

  • To treat a diagnosed specific cancer (early stage of cancer)

  • To control cancer and tumor growth when cure is impossible.

  •  To decrease tumor size prior to surgery and before radiation therapy

  •  For symptom relief ( ex. Pain)

  • To destroy minute cancer cells possibly present after removal of a tumor (adjuvant therapy)

 In every treatment, the benefits must outweigh the risks. However, in chemotherapy there are certain conditions in which risks may outweigh benefits. The following conditions are as follows:

  •  Overt or occult infections

  •  Bleeding dyscrasias

  •  Bone marrow depression

  •  Severe metabolic disturbances

  •  Renal dysfunction

  • Liver dysfunction

  • Pregnancy

Chemotherapy as a cancer treatment modality is primarily employed for cure, palliation, or adjunct therapy. The success of the therapy greatly depends on the type of malignant disease and its stage and extent.

There are 2 known types of chemotherapy, combination and adjuvant therapy. A single chemotherapy agent or drug are said to cure cancer, generally they work much better if use in certain combinations. Combination of drugs, each with different mechanism of actions could work jointly to kill and destroy more cancer and tumor cells and lessen the chance that cancer becomes resistant to a certain chemotherapy drug. This approach is referred to as combination therapy. On the other hand, adjuvant therapy refers to chemotherapy administered in conjunction with another surgery or radiation therapy. It is aimed at the destruction of micro metastases thought likely to be present but too small to be detected by diagnostic techniques.

Chemotherapy is not a single event rather a process. Frequency of treatment depends on the response of the therapy to the body and to the cancer and tumor growth. Prevention is always the key to a healthy body. However, if the disease process just like cancer is already existing, necessary therapy just like chemotherapy prevents further cancer growth.



Chemotherapy | Chemotherapy Drugs | Side Effects of Chemotherapy | Treating Side Effects | Nadir and Chemotherapy | Post Treatment