Overview

About Chemotherapy

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About Chemotherapy

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

You may get chemo alone or combined with other treatments. It can help other treatments work better. For example, you may get chemo before or after you have surgery or radiation.

How Chemotherapy Is Given

Most people get chemo in cycles. A cycle is a period of treatment followed by a period of rest. For example, you may get chemo every day for one week and then have three weeks of rest. These four weeks make up one cycle. The rest period gives the body a chance to build new, healthy cells.

Chemo can be given in different ways:

  • By vein—through an IV in the arm or a port in the chest. When chemo is given in this way, it is called infusion. Depending on the type of treatment, each infusion can take minutes or several hours.
  • By mouth—in pill, capsule, or liquid form.
  • By putting a cream on the skin. This is used for some types of skin cancer.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemo drugs destroy cancer cells, but can also harm healthy cells. This can cause temporary side effects such as hair loss and mouth sores. Read more about side effects of cancer treatment.

The side effects you feel depend on the chemotherapy you get. The way you feel during treatment may be very different from other people. Many side effects can be prevented or controlled with medicines or integrative therapies.

Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about ways they can help control side effects.

Infusion Locations

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s patients get chemotherapy at these three locations:

Our infusion centers provide the highest quality patient care and excellent outcomes. Our specialized nurses teach each patient about the treatment and its possible side effects. They also watch every patient carefully throughout the each infusion.

Our infusion center nurses make treatments as comfortable as possible. Nurses provide pillows, warm blankets, magazines, books, and DVD players with a large selection of movies. Snacks and beverages are also available.

Resources

If you or a loved one is starting chemotherapy, you can register for our Chemotherapy 101 class. This is an introduction to cancer and its treatment with chemotherapy. The class covers basic concepts, processes, and side effects. The class is offered the first and third Thursdays of each month at 5 p.m. For more information, call 801-585-0162.