Northwest Oncology & Hematology

Rolling Meadows Office: 847.870.4100
Elk Grove Village Office: 847.437.3312
Hoffman Estates Office: 847.885.4100
Barrington Office: 847.842.0180
Elgin Office: 847.577.1023

Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Understanding ChemotherapyQu© es la quimioterapia

Understanding Chemotherapy

Knowing what chemotherapy does, and when and how it is given, may make you feel less anxious about starting treatment. Chemotherapy can be a single medication or a combination of medications. It may be used along with surgery or radiation therapy to shrink a tumor or prevent its spread.

Image of woman undergoing procedure
Chemotherapy is often given in an outpatient setting.

How Chemotherapy Works

Chemotherapy kills growing cancer cells. More than one medication may be used. This allows the growing cells to be attacked at more than one stage of growth. Side effects occur because chemotherapy acts on normal cells, too. Fast-growing cells are most affected. This includes cells that make up hair, the digestive tract, and blood. Chemotherapy is given in cycles. After a treatment, time is set aside for the body to build healthy cells before the next cycle begins.

The Goals of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can reduce the number of cancer cells. As a result, it may:

  • Cure cancer

  • Cause remission (no active symptoms of disease)

  • Kill any cancer cells remaining after surgery

  • Control cancer for a period of time

  • Reduce symptoms (such as pain)

Risks and Complications

There are some risks with chemotherapy, but the benefits usually outweigh the risks. The following are possible long-term side effects of some types of chemotherapy:

  • Infertility

  • Organ damage (heart, kidneys, liver, lungs)

  • Lasting nerve damage

  • Another cancer, which may occur at a later time

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

Contact us at Northwest Oncology & Hematology. You can reach us at 847.870.4100 (Rolling Meadows office), 847.437.3312 (Elk Grove Village office), 847.885.4100 (Hoffman Estates office), 847.842.0180 (Barrington office) and 847.577.1023 (Elgin office)For your convenience, you can also use our New Patient Appointment online form to schedule your consultation with us.

Decrease font size Default font size Increase font size