What are Anticancer Medications - Chemotherapy?
Written by Gary Presant, MD   
Monday, 05 October 2009

Chemotherapy refers to medicines that can kill or control cancer. Chemotherapy medicines target and treat a specific area affected by cancer. These medicines travel to all parts of the body through the bloodstream. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, which means it is a treatment that affects the whole body.

There are many kinds of chemotherapy.

The medicine chosen will depend on the type and the extent of the cancer, as well as the potential side effects of the medicine. Each medicine will have its own specific side effects. Most of the time, chemotherapy is given as an outpatient procedure in a clinic or a doctor's office. People generally do not need to stay overnight in the hospital to receive chemotherapy.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Following are some of the common uses of chemotherapy:
- to control the growth of the cancer
- to cure the cancer
- to relieve the symptoms or pain caused by the cancer

Some types of cancer respond better to chemotherapy than others. Leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer are often treated with chemotherapy.

How is the procedure performed?

Most chemotherapy medicines are given directly into a vein. This allows them to enter the bloodstream quickly. Some medicines are given by mouth. These medicines are absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream. Combinations of medicines are often used for the most effective treatment.