Chemotherapy Treatment

Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. At Mount Sinai Hospital, chemotherapy is administered at the Cancer Care Clinic. Some patients will receive chemotherapy as an inpatient.

The goals of chemotherapy depend on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Chemotherapy may be used before surgery to shrink a tumour or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain, to prevent the cancer from coming back. Chemotherapy can also be used to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

A chemotherapy drug might be given on its own or in combination with other drugs (called combination chemotherapy). Chemotherapy can also be combined with non-drug treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Immunotherapy (treatment that helps your body's natural defenses fight the cancer) or targeted therapy (treatments that target and disable genes or proteins found in cancer cells that the cancer cells need to grow) are newer types of treatment that may also part of the plan for some patients.

Most chemotherapy is given as a ‘systemic’ therapy, meaning that the drugs travel around through the bloodstream and can attack cancer cells almost anywhere in the body. It can be a pill or given intravenously – a slow injection into a vein.

Your chemotherapy treatment will be planned with you by a medical oncologist. Your oncologist will work with other members of your health care team to choose the right approach for you. Our specially trained oncology nurses will also be caring for you during your treatments.

Side-effects and safety

Your health care team will provide you with information about what you should avoid while taking chemotherapy and any safety precautions. Be sure to tell your doctor what medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins and supplements. This is very important for your safety as even supplements may interact with your chemotherapy.

While you are on chemotherapy you will also have blood tests, X-rays or other imaging tests to see how well the treatment is working.

Your cancer care team will work closely with you to answer your questions and help you with any side effects you are experiencing.

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