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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to destroy cancer cells.

Sometimes medicines are put into the blood, usually in a vein, so that they can travel to cells all over the body. This is called systemic chemotherapy.

But chemotherapy also may be:

  • Taken by mouth (orally), in pills, capsules, or a liquid.
  • Mixed into a cream that is rubbed onto the skin (topically).
  • Given as a shot (injection) into a muscle or under the skin.
  • Given through a thin tube (a catheter) directly into the abdominal cavity (intraperitoneal chemotherapy).
  • Given through a catheter directly into an organ, such as the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy).

Chemotherapy can cause side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. Some side effects go away after treatment is finished. But other side effects, such as infertility, may be permanent.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Last Revised April 30, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.