Chemotherapy uses special medications or a combination of medications to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy sometimes is the primary treatment for certain types of cancer, or it can be combined with other forms of treatment such as surgery or radiation therapy. Many factors will determine the length and the frequency of the treatments. Prior to the start, your medical oncologist (a cancer doctor who specializes in chemotherapy) will explain your treatment plan and answer any questions you may have.
Because chemotherapy affects the bone marrow, the body’s cell-producing mechanism, we will keep a close watch on blood counts throughout your treatment. Your oncologist and oncology nurse will evaluate your progress regularly.
Sometimes, other non-chemotherapy drugs may be used in your treatment. Your doctor will evaluate you to see which medications are best.
Chemotherapy is most often administered through a vein (intravenously); however, there are times when chemotherapy is given orally or through injection. Oncology nurses, under direct medical supervision, administer the chemotherapy drugs and provide instructions to help patients through the treatments. A specific, customized treatment plan is developed by the physician for each patient.