Chemotherapy is the use of medications to kill cancer cells. Different chemotherapy medications destroy cancer cells by a variety of different mechanisms. Many work on the DNA of a cell to prevent it from reproducing, while others deprive cancer cells of what they need to grow.
More than 100 different medications are currently being used to treat cancer. If chemotherapy is part of a treatment plan, the type of medication— or combination of medications — prescribed by the medical oncologist will depend on the type of cancer being treated and the cancer stage. Other factors, such as the patient's overall health, are also taken into consideration.
Medical oncologists are physicians who specialize in treating cancer with a variety of cancer-fighting medications. Our medical oncologists meet with patients and their families to determine an individualized treatment plan working with other cancer specialists and oncology nurses.
If your medical oncologist believes you are a good candidate to participate in a clinical trial evaluating a new treatment or more effective combinations of treatments — and you agree — you will have access to the very latest in research treatments.
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Where Will I Get Chemotherapy?
In some cases, chemotherapy is administered in the hospital. Most people, however, receive their chemotherapy treatment in an outpatient clinic. Swedish has specially designed infusion suites that are staffed with expert chemotherapy-certified nurses. Attention is given to your comfort and safety in this environment.
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How Often Will I Receive Chemotherapy & How Long Will It Last?
Depending on a patient’s situation and the particular medication, chemotherapy may be administered once a day, once a week or once a month. Chemotherapy is often given in cycles. A patient may, for example, get therapy for two weeks, then have two weeks to rest before the next cycle.
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How Will the Chemotherapy Be Given to Me?
Some chemotherapy medications can be given by mouth. Most often, however, chemotherapy treatment is given by “infusion,” which typically involves being connected to an I.V. (intravenous line) or a pump that delivers the medication directly into a vein.
See How Chemotherapy Is Done
Learn More About Chemotherapy
Click on the graphic below to launch an interactive tutorial about chemotherapy.
Listen to The Chemotherapy Experience
What to Expect
Talking to your doctor
Your first treatment
Resources for Look & Appearance
Getting the Best Outcome
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