Chemotherapy is a medical treatment that works directly on cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is the most well-known type of medical oncology treatment, which also includes immunotherapy, anti-tumor antibiotics and other powerful cancer medications.

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

How chemotherapy works

Chemotherapy targets specific parts of the cancer cell growth cycle, which prevents the cells from growing or multiplying. We use chemotherapy in many ways:

  • To cure cancer
  • To slow cancer’s growth
  • To relieve cancer symptoms

The first step: Cancer type

The specific chemotherapy treatment that is best for you will depend in part on the type of cancer. Your personalized care plan may also include other types of cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy or surgery. Review your specific type of cancer to learn more about the available treatments.

View All Cancer Types

Specialized experts in cancer care
Our medical oncologists work closely with our other cancer specialists to provide the most advanced care available.
Understanding and Treating Neuropathy

Certain chemotherapies can cause inflammation or directly damage the nerves, causing neuropathy. Neuropathy, which causes pain, tingling, burning or numbness in the hands and feet can be especially difficult to deal with.

Frequently asked questions about chemotherapy treatment

  • How is chemotherapy given?

    Chemotherapy can be given to you in several ways:

    • Through an IV or injection
    • By mouth
    • As a topical medication applied to the skin.

    The stage and type of cancer dictate which method we use to give chemotherapy.

    You may receive chemotherapy treatment in one of a few places:

    • At home
    • At your doctor’s office
    • In the hospital

    The location depends on the drugs we recommend and your health insurance requirements.

    Getting chemotherapy usually doesn’t hurt. Some IV drugs may cause a temporary burning or cold sensation. However, your doctor or nurse will warn you before treatment if this is expected.

  • What are the possible side effects of chemotherapy?

    Everyone responds to chemotherapy treatment differently. Side effects depend on the drug itself, the dosage and personal tolerance of the medication. Possible side effects include:

    • Chemo brain (mental fogginess or fuzziness)
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
    • Hair loss
    • Nausea
    • Weakened immune system (low white blood cell count)

    Because nausea is a common side effect, your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medications during chemotherapy. We will also test your white blood cell count before we begin chemotherapy treatment. If your count is low, we’ll give you medications to boost your immune system and ward off additional illness.

    OncoStat clinic for side effects

    While your care team is always available to answer questions and offer support for side effects, our OncoStat clinic provides an extra level of care for any urgent health needs. OncoStat offers convenient, same-day appointments if you are experiencing side effects from your cancer treatment. Call (313) 916-9840.

  • How long does chemotherapy last?
    • Chemotherapy treatment can range from several months to years, depending on the type of cancer, the type of drug and how your tumor responds.
    • Most chemotherapy drugs are given weekly or monthly, but some are given daily.
    • During treatment, many people can work, go to school, and participate in their regular activities. However, we encourage rest if you feel tired after treatments.

  • What foods, drinks and medications are allowed during chemotherapy?

    We provide nutrition services to you during your treatment. A cancer-trained dietitian will work with you to ensure good nutrition, which will help combat the side effects of cancer drugs. Some people tolerate chemotherapy better when they eat a light meal before and after treatment. We recommend increasing fluid intake before, during and after chemotherapy treatment by two to four glasses of water daily.

    For many people, one cocktail or glass of wine in a day will not be harmful. Ask your doctor if it’s safe to drink alcohol with the type of chemotherapy you’re taking. Some types of medications may interfere with chemotherapy, including:

    • Antibiotics
    • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
    • Aspirin
    • Barbiturates
    • Cough medicine
    • Diabetes medication
    • Hormones

    Your doctor will review your list of medications before starting chemotherapy to make any necessary adjustments.

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


Cookie Consent

We use cookies to improve your web experience. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. Read our Internet Privacy Statement to learn what information we collect and how we use it.

Accept All Cookies