Chemotherapy & Biological Therapy
Chemotherapy is any treatment involving the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. These drugs travel through the bloodstream, targeting areas of the body where the cancer may have spread. Because it can reach great distances away from the original cancer site, chemotherapy is considered a systemic cancer treatment.
Cancer chemotherapy may consist of single drugs or a combination of drugs. Each drug has a different way of working and is effective at a specific time in the life cycle of the targeted cells. Your doctor will base the most effective method against your particular type of cancer. Chemotherapy drugs may be administered in one or more of the following ways:
- IV (intravenous or dripping medicine through a vein)
- Shot (injections into a body cavity)
- Pill (oral medication)
More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy. Your individual condition will typically be designed to achieve one or more of three specific goals: cure, remission, or controlling and/or relieving symptoms.
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan specifically for you, based on your type of cancer, its stage of advancement, and your overall health.
Biological therapy uses the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells. Some biological therapies for cancer use vaccines or bacteria to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. For patients with cancer, biological therapies may be used to treat the cancer itself or the side effects of other cancer treatments.
Questions to ask your doctor regarding chemotherapy/biotherapy:
- Why do you think this is the best option for me?
- What are the benefits and risks?
- What are the chances this will be successful? How long until we know?
- Is there any preparation needed before either treatment?
- How often will I receive treatment and how long will treatments last?
- Are there any lifestyle restrictions (diet, working, exercising) during treatment? How long until I can resume normal activities?
- What are some side effects I could experience and how can they be managed?
- What types of support are available for me?