What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs.


What to expect..

Chemotherapy is an invasive treatment that can have severe adverse effects. This is because the drugs often target not only cancerous cells but also healthy cells.

The adverse effects can be worrying, but given early, chemotherapy can in some cases achieve a complete cure, making the side effects bearable for many patients.

It is important that patients know what to expect before starting treatment.


How is the dose given?

Depending on the type of cancer, the patient may take chemotherapy orally, or intravenously, injected into the vein or elsewhere.

Orally: If the patient’s health allows, tablets can sometimes be taken at home. However, the patient will have to make regular hospital visits to check their health and response to treatment. The drug may also be in capsule or liquid form.

The dose must be taken exactly when specified. If the patient forgets to take one at a specific time, they should call the medical team immediately.

Intravenous chemotherapy: This may be injected directly into a vein with a needle or delivered through an intravenous infusion.


Side Effects

Chemotherapy often involves severe adverse effects, but recent scientific advances mean that many of these are far more manageable than in the past.

Depending on the type and extent of the treatment and other individual factors, adverse effects can range from mild to severe. Some people will have no adverse effects.

The impact of treatment on a person’s daily life will depend on the extent of the symptoms.


Here are some of the adverse effects that may occur:

Nausea and vomiting

Alopecia, or hair loss


Hearing impairment

Loss of appetite

Change in bowel/bladder function