When Do You Need Chemotherapy?

Whether you need Chemotherapy as part of your treatment depends on what type of cancer you have, how big it is and whether it has spread or not. Chemotherapy circulates in the bloodstream in the body. Therefore, cancer can be treated almost anywhere in the body, using Chemotherapy.

Surgery only eliminates cancer from that part of the body where it is located. Radiotherapy also treats only the region of the body to which it is intended.

You might need chemotherapy:

  • For shrinkage of cancer before Surgery or radiotherapy
  • For trying to stop cancer recurrence after Surgery or radiotherapy
  • As a stand-alone therapy if the cancer type is susceptible to it
  • Treat cancer that has spread from where it originated

Chemotherapy before Surgery or radiotherapy

Before surgery, Chemotherapy aims to shrink a tumour so that you will need smaller Surgery or to make it easier to get rid of all the cancer. Shrinking the tumour with Chemotherapy may also mean you can have Radiotherapy to a smaller body area.

This reason for receiving Chemotherapy is called neoadjuvant care before other therapies. Doctors may sometimes call it primary treatment.

Chemotherapy after Surgery or radiotherapy

Following Surgery or radiotherapy, Chemotherapy is aimed at lowering the risk of cancer recurrence in the future. This is called adjuvant therapy. Chemotherapy circulates throughout the body and kills any cancer cell that has travelled away from the primary tumour.

Chemotherapy for blood cancer

Sometimes you may not need Surgery or radiation for Cancer Treatment. You may need only Chemotherapy as treatment. This is for cancers that are very sensitive to chemotherapy, such as Blood Cancer.

Chemotherapy for cancer that has spread

When the cancer has already spread, or there is a risk that the cancer might spread, in the future, the doctor may recommend Chemotherapy. Cancer cells often split free from a tumour and pass through the bloodstream or lymphatic system into other parts of the body. They can settle on different parts of the body and grow into new tumours. Those are called metastases or secondary cancers. The Chemotherapy medications circulate throughout the body inside the bloodstream to kill any spreading cancer cells.

Chemotherapy with radiotherapy

Doctors also recommend both Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy at the same time. That is known as chemoradiation. It may make radiation more effective but may increase side effects as well.

Chemotherapy Drugs

The Chemotherapy drugs you may get depend on where the cancer originated in your body (your type of cancer). That is because there are specific Chemotherapy drugs that work on particular types of cancer. Therefore, the medications you need for cancer that originated in the breast and spread to the lung is different from the drugs you would use to treat cancer that originated in the lungs.