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Does chemotherapy only treat tumors?

ANSWER

Chemotherapy works by killing cancer cells, so you might assume that the goal is always to eliminate a tumor. But doctors sometimes use chemo for other reasons, such as to:

  • Kill hidden cancer cells in your body after you already had surgery to remove a tumor
  • Shrink a tumor before you get other treatments, like surgery or radiation therapy
  • Help relieve some cancer symptoms, even if a cure isn't likely
  • Prepare for a bone marrow stem cell transplant if you have a bone marrow disease
  • Treat an overactive immune system -- your body's defense against germs -- in diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

SOURCES:

National Cancer Institute: "Chemotherapy and You."

Mayo Clinic: "Chemotherapy."

American Cancer Society: "Getting Chemotherapy," "Chemotherapy Side Effects."

Reviewed by Neha Pathak on February 22, 2018

SOURCES:

National Cancer Institute: "Chemotherapy and You."

Mayo Clinic: "Chemotherapy."

American Cancer Society: "Getting Chemotherapy," "Chemotherapy Side Effects."

Reviewed by Neha Pathak on February 22, 2018

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Do you need to stop working during chemotherapy?

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