Chemotherapy is the use of drugs in the treatment of cancer. Chemotherapy works throughout the whole body. It can kill cancer cells in the primary (original) tumor. It can also kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body (metastasized). More than 100 different medications are used in chemotherapy. Often two or more drugs are used in combination.

A medical oncologist will oversee your chemotherapy. Medical oncologists are doctors who specialize in the use of chemotherapy. They have knowledge of the latest and most effective chemotherapy agents (drugs) used to treat specific cancers. Your doctor will discuss with you the risks and benefits of a particular drug or drug combination. He or she will then recommend a course of treatment, including:

  • which drug or drugs to use
  • size of the dose
  • how you will receive the drug (by pill, injection, or other means)
  • how often you will be treated
  • how long you will be treated

Your doctor may also suggest that you consider taking part in a clinical trial for a particular type of chemotherapy. Click to learn more about clinical trials.

Chemotherapy is usually provided on an outpatient basis. You may receive chemotherapy at: