What Does Chemotherapy Do?

Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease, but it is most commonly used to describe cancer treatment. This treatment is most often given as an infusion, but it may also be given intravenously or into a device implanted in your chest. Some chemotherapy drugs can also be taken in pill or capsule form.

Chemotherapy uses certain drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing or spreading to other parts of the body. While surgery and radiation therapy remove, kill or damage cancer cells in a certain area of the body, chemotherapy can work throughout the entire body.

How does chemotherapy work?

Though it depends on the type of cancer you have, and how far it’s progressed, chemotherapy can help cure, treat or ease your symptoms. It is most often used to:

  • Shrink a tumor before radiation therapy or surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy)
  • Destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation therapy (adjuvant chemotherapy)
  • Make other biological or radiation therapies more effective
  • Destroy cancer cells that return or spread to other parts of the body

Additional reasons someone might need chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be given with curative intent, or it may be used to prolong life or reduce symptoms. It is also used to treat diseases other than cancers. Here are some additional reasons someone might need chemotherapy:

  • To kill hidden cancer cells in the body after surgery to remove a tumor
  • To help relieve some cancer symptoms, even if a cure isn’t likely
  • To prepare the body for a bone marrow stem cell transplant
  • To treat an overactive immune system in diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, the oncologists at Alpha Med Physicians Group are highly specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We offer compassionate care and advanced cancer treatments like chemotherapy in Tinley Park, Homewood, and Palos Heights, IL.