- What is chemotherapy?
- How does chemotherapy work?
- Why have chemotherapy?
- How is chemotherapy given?
- Where and how often will I have treatment?
- How much does treatment cost?
- Can chemotherapy be given during pregnancy?
- Chemotherapy treatment
- Other ways of having chemotherapy
- Chemotherapy is time consuming
- Safety precautions
- Chemotherapy and infections
- Is the treatment working?
- Managing side effects
- Sex and fertility
- Question checklist
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How does chemotherapy work?
Most chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to reach cancer cells in different organs and tissues.
Chemotherapy drugs target and injure rapidly dividing cells, but because it is not cancer specific, both cancer cells and some normal cells are affected. Side effects are caused when normal cells are damaged.
Cancer cells don’t repair easily, so they recover more slowly than normal cells. By the time your next treatment starts, your body’s normal cells have recovered but the cancer cells have not. This means that more cancer cells are destroyed with every treatment.