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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Chemotherapy

Introduction

The treatment of cancer using drugs. Chemotherapy can be used alone or together with other forms of treatment such as surgery or radiation therapy, and is used to control and sometimes cure the cancer, and can also prevent or delay cancer from recurring.

Cancer cells are cells that divide and multiply in an uncontrolled manner. Chemotherapy affects cancer cells' ability to grow and divide.  Other healthy cells in the body also multiply quickly and chemotherapy can also affect the production of these cells. Effects on normal cells are responsible for most of the side effects associated with chemotherapy.  The normal cells usually recover quickly and the side effects of the drugs may only last a short time.