What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy, often called chemo, uses medicines or drugs to eliminate cancer cells. Chemo can be used alone or in combination with surgery and radiation.

Chemo can be used for different reasons, which your doctor will discuss with you before you start treatment. Chemo may be used to:

  • Keep the cancer from spreading
  • Slow the cancer's growth
  • Kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body
  • Relieve symptoms such as pain or blockages caused by cancer
  • Cure cancer

There are more than 100 types of drugs that are used for different chemotherapy treatment plans. Most chemo treatments will use more than one of these drugs to eliminate cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be administered in a variety of ways including orally with a liquid or pill, in the form of a shot, but the most common chemo delivery method is an intravenous infusion. The duration of your chemo treatment will depend on your cancer treatment plan and the effectiveness of the chemo. Chemotherapy infusion is generally not painful but there are potential side effects. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about side effects. Common side effects may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fertility problems, emotional changes, as well mouth and skin changes. Many side effects can be treated and possibly prevented so talk to your doctor before you begin treatments to assess your risk for side effects and what can be done to prevent them.

Also, remember, you are never alone when receiving care at Baptist. Our nurse navigators are there for you every step of the way from diagnosis to follow-up care offering education, care coordination, counseling and connecting patients to community resources.

Going through chemo treatment can be a very difficult experience not only for patients but for their families as well. Remember, you are never alone when receiving care at Baptist. Our nurse navigators are there for you every step of the way from diagnosis to follow-up care offering education, care coordination, counseling and connecting patients to community resources.