What Is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with specific drugs that can destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs work by destroying cells that divide rapidly. Unfortunately, healthy cells can also be harmed, especially those that divide rapidly. Many of the side effects from chemotherapy are related to the effects chemotherapy has on our healthy cells. Every chemotherapy drug is different and can cause a variety of side effects. Contrary to popular belief, many of these side effects can be easily managed with prescription drugs, relaxation, exercise, good nutrition, and complimentary/alternative medicine.
Chemotherapy is not "one size or one drug fits all". Most of the chemotherapy drugs work best in combination. Therefore, it is not unusual to receive 2 or more different drugs together or to have chemotherapy and radiation therapy combined. Each treatment plan is individually tailored for a specific disease and patient. For example, although two women may have the same breast cancer, they may receive different drugs depending on their age, risk factors, and health history. Many people who are diagnosed with cancer will talk to their friends, family and neighbors about cancer and chemotherapy. It is important to realize that everyone reacts to chemotherapy differently and side effect management continues to improve with new scientific discoveries. Chemotherapy Facts and Questions>
Our education handouts are designed to provide a brief overview. Prior to receiving any chemotherapy, you will be scheduled for a chemotherapy education session (generally 1.5 hour in length) with one of our nurse practitioners. During this session, all possible side effects will be discussed in-depth. You will also receive advice on symptom management, support groups, and cancer resources. We recommend and encourage you to bring a friend or family member to the chemotherapy education session. This appointment is a great time to ask any questions about your treatment and what side effects may be encountered.