Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local therapy. Both treat
a small focused area of your body. Chemotherapy is a different treatment
approach, administering therapy throughout your body. Chemotherapy is
a form of cancer treatment which utilizes medicines or drugs to treat cancer.
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a drug that is delivered to the patient’s entire
body through the blood system - reaching cancer cells that may have traveled
to other parts of the body from the original cancer site.
At times, more than one chemotherapy drug may be administered, since they
do not all act in the same way. Chemotherapy drugs are commonly administered
intravenously (through the veins), although some may be injected into
the muscle or under the skin, as well as taken orally in pill, tablet,
or liquid form.
What Does Chemotherapy Do?
- Kills cancer cells to cure cancer
- Stops the spread of cancer
- Slows the growth of cancer
- Helps to relieve symptoms, like pain, caused by cancer
Chemotherapy is traditionally an outpatient procedure, and is given in
cycles over weeks or months. Though chemotherapy is an effective way to
treat many types of cancer, it also carries a risk of side effects. Some
chemotherapy side effects are mild and treatable, while others can cause
Timing of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy may be given prior to surgery, in which case it is called
Primary Chemotherapy or Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy. Or, it may be given
after surgery, in which case, it is called Adjuvant Chemotherapy. The
decisions of which drugs to use, what combinations, what dosages, and
whether before or after surgery are complex. These issues must be discussed
in detail with your medical oncologist.
Learn more about Chemotherapy here.
Hoag Family Cancer Institute: Cancer Outpatient Treatment Clinic
Hoag is here to guide you through your chemotherapy treatment in a professional
and caring environment. At the Hoag Cancer Outpatient Treatment Clinic
(COTC), we offer a dedicated staff of registered oncology nurses that
are highly trained and experienced in the administration of chemotherapy.
The staff also provides education to breast cancer patients on caring
for your intravenous devices, such as ports and catheters.
It is important to discuss all the aspects of chemotherapy treatment with
your breast cancer care team. Please feel free to call us with any questions