Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses strong drugs to treat cancer or help relieve symptoms. It is also called “chemo.” It can destroy cancer cells, stop cancer cells from spreading, and slow the growth of cancer cells.

Chemotherapy can be given alone or with other treatments. It can also help other treatments work better. For example, you may get chemotherapy before or after surgery or radiation therapy. Or you may get chemotherapy before a peripheral blood stem cell transplant.

If you or a loved one is starting chemotherapy, you can register for our Chemotherapy 101 class or learn more about our Infusion Center. Below are some frequently asked questions about chemotherapy. Also, watch our Introduction to Chemotherapy video to learn more about this treatment:

Frequently Asked Questions about Chemotherapy

How is chemotherapy given?
How do doctors decide which chemotherapy drugs to use?
Where do I go for chemotherapy?
How often will I get chemotherapy?
Does chemotherapy cause any side effects?
Where can I get more information?

How is chemotherapy given?

Chemotherapy can be given in different ways:

  • By vein (through an IV in your arm or chest)
  • By mouth (in pill, capsule, or liquid form)
  • By applying on the surface of the skin (for some types of skin cancer)

Depending on the type of treatment, chemotherapy may last anywhere from minutes to several hours. Read our chemotherapy factsheets to learn more about what to expect for your chemotherapy appointments.

How do doctors decide which chemotherapy drugs to use?

The chemotherapy drugs you receive depend on the type and stage of cancer you have. Some drugs are used for many cancers, while others are used only to treat specific types of cancer. Your treatment also depends on whether you have had chemotherapy before or if you have other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

As a National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) uses the most current cancer treatments available. Learn more about national treatment guidelines and how cancer treatments are developed through clinical trials.

Where do I go for chemotherapy?

HCI patients receive chemotherapy in the Infusion Center at HCI or at HCI’s South Jordan Health Center location.

Other types of chemotherapy are given while staying in the hospital or at home.

How often will I get chemotherapy?

Your doctor will prescribe a schedule for you. Most people get chemotherapy in cycles, which is a period of treatment followed by a period of rest. For example, you may receive one week of daily chemotherapy followed by three weeks of rest. These four weeks make up one cycle. The rest period gives the body a chance to build new, healthy cells.

Does chemotherapy cause any side effects?

The side effects you feel depend on the chemotherapy you receive. The way you feel during treatment may be very different from someone else. Side effects are common to many chemotherapy drugs. Many of them can be prevented or controlled with medicines or other measures. Learn more about common side effects.

Where can I get more information?

Visit the infusion website for more chemotherapy education and resources. Also, visit the G. Mitchell Morris Cancer Learning Center (CLC), HCI’s free cancer information service and lending library. It is located on the sixth floor of the cancer hospital and is open to the public Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The CLC offers four easy ways to get cancer-related information:

  • Call toll free 1-888-424-2100
  • Visit the sixth floor of the cancer hospital
  • E-mail cancerinfo@hci.utah.edu
  • Text “askhci” to 66746