CHCWM – Cancer & Hematology Centers of West Michigan

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” is a treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.

Depending on your type of cancer, chemotherapy can:

  • kill cancer cells to the point that they are no longer detected in your body
  • slow the growth of cancer cells and keep them from spreading
  • ease cancer symptoms by shrinking tumors that cause pain or pressure

Treatment schedules vary. How often and how long you receive chemotherapy depends on:

  • your type of cancer
  • how advanced it is
  • the goals of treatment
  • the type of chemotherapy and how your body reacts to it

You may receive chemotherapy in cycles. For instance, you might receive one week of chemotherapy followed by three weeks of rest. The rest period gives your body a chance to build new healthy cells.

Chemotherapy may be given in the following ways:

  • injection
  • intravenous (IV) into a vein
  • topically – in a cream that you rub onto your skin
  • orally – pills, capsules, or liquids that you swallow

Managing Side Effects

Chemotherapy can also cause side effects during or after your treatment. Your care team will work with you to help you manage any discomfort during this time. For more information, see Managing Side Effects.