What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy has been used since the days of the ancient Greeks. Chemotherapy for cancer care, however, began with the use of nitrogen mustard in the 1940s. Since then, several new medicines have been created and tested in an effort to discover what is effective in Chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is most commonly used to identify medications that specifically destroy cancer cells. These are sometimes called “anti-cancer” drugs or “antineoplastic.” The current treatment uses more than 100 medicines to treat cancer. There are still more chemotherapeutic drugs under development and research.

Chemotherapy is often abbreviated as ‘chemo’ and sometimes ‘CTX’ or ‘CTx’. It may be used with curative intent, or it may aim to prolong life or reduce symptoms (palliative chemotherapy).

If Chemotherapy is an effective treatment for you, and what medications you should have, depends on:

  • Your type of cancer
  • The appearance of the cancer cells when looked under a microscope
  • Whether cancer has spread
  • Your overall health

What does Chemotherapy do?

The use of Chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer you have and how spread it is.

  • Cure: In some cases, the treatment may kill cancer cells to the point where your doctor can no longer detect them in your body. The best result after that is that they may never grow back again.
  • Control: In some cases, cancer can either be stopped from spreading to other areas of the body or can delay cancer tumour development.
  • Symptoms of easiness: In some cases, Chemotherapy cannot cure or regulate cancer spread, and is only used to shrink tumours that cause pain or strain. Such tumours also keep on growing again.