Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells (including leukaemia and lymphoma). There are over 50 different chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy drugs can stop cancer cells dividing and reproducing themselves. Some are given on their own, but often several drugs are given together (combination chemotherapy). Chemotherapy may also be used with other types of treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapies, or a combination of these.
The type of chemotherapy treatment given depends on:
- The type of haematological malignancy you have
- The stage of disease
- Your age and physical fitness
Benefits of Chemotherapy
With some cancers, chemotherapy may destroy all cancerous cells and cure the disease.
It can also be given to shrink and control a cancer to help reduce symptoms and prolong life.
Chemotherapy is usually given as a series of sessions of treatment. Depending on the type of haematological malignancy patients may be admitted to hospital for treatment (usually for patients with acute leukaemia and more aggressive types of lymphoma) or it may be given as a day case in the Oncology centre. Each session is followed by a rest period. Each session of chemotherapy destroys more of the cancer cells, and the rest period allows the normal cells and tissues to recover.