Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill disease, including cancer. Most chemotherapy drugs move around the body in the bloodstream so they can reach all cancer cells wherever they are in the body and damage them. The cells eventually die, and the cancer may then shrink, or go away completely.
Unfortunately chemotherapy drugs don’t only affect cancer cells. They can damage any cells that are actively growing and dividing, for example, cells in the mouth and hair roots. This can cause side-effects such as sore mouth or hair loss.
Normal cells recover quite quickly, so any damage to them is usually temporary. This is why most side-effects go away once chemotherapy is over.
There are many different chemotherapy drugs. Some are given on their own, but several drugs are often given together (combination therapy).
The chemotherapy given depends on many things, such as:
- The type of cancer
- What the cancer cells look like
- Where the cancer started
- Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
Chemotherapy is delivered in the Cancer Centre and in the Bridgewater Suite on the Belfast City Hospital site. Some haematology patients may also receive chemotherapy in Ward 10 North of Belfast City Hospital.
To read more about chemotherapy treatment, please follow the links on the right.