Chemotherapy & Targeted Therapy


With chemotherapy, medications are used to kill cancer cells. Different chemotherapy medications destroy cancer cells by a variety of different mechanisms.

Surgery and radiation therapy are considered regional, or local, treatments. That is, these treatment options manage a tumor that is in a specific area and has not spread to other distant areas. Because chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, it works to kill cancer cells located in any region of the body. This is why chemotherapy is often the applied treatment for cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.

Many chemotherapy medications work on the DNA of a cell to prevent it from reproducing, while others deprive cancer cells of what they need to grow. If chemotherapy is part of a treatment plan for colorectal cancer, the type of medication — or combination of medications — prescribed by the medical oncologist will depend on the cancer stage and the patient's overall health.

Learn more about chemotherapy and what to expect

Biological Therapy

Biological therapies are anticancer medications that interfere with specific pathways involved in cancer cell growth or survival. Some targeted therapies block growth signals from reaching cancer cells; others reduce the blood supply to cancer cells; and still others stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack the cancer cell. Depending on the specific "target," targeted therapies may slow cancer cell growth or increase cancer cell death. Targeted therapies may be used in combination with other cancer treatments such as conventional chemotherapy. Recently approved targeted therapies represent the most novel advance in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer in the last few years.

Learn more about Biological Therapy

Our Medical Oncology Team

The Swedish Cancer Institute’s medical-oncology team includes physicians called medical oncologists who specialize in the use of cancer medications, oncology nurses and other specialists with many years of experience treating a wide variety of cancers with chemotherapy and targeted therapy. At the Cancer Institute's Medical Treatment Centers, physicians treat patients with the most current anti-cancer medications and treatment protocols available. Many physicians here are also involved with promising clinical research treatments — ranging from national research trials to locally based studies they have initiated themselves.

Treatment Locations & Contacts

Cancer Podcast


Cancer Podcast
Listen to The Chemotherapy Experience

More Information

Treatment Options by Stage


Radiation Therapy

About Colorectal Cancer