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Why have chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy can be used for different reasons:

  • Cure—some cancers can be cured by chemotherapy on its own or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery or radiotherapy. The aim of the treatment is to destroy all cancer cells.
  • To help other treatments—chemotherapy can be given either before or after other treatments. Used beforehand, its purpose is to make the cancer smaller so your main treatment is more effective (neo-adjuvant therapy). If chemotherapy is given after your main treatment, its aim is to get rid of any remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy).
  • To control the cancer—if the cancer is too large and can’t be cured, chemotherapy can be used to control the cancer’s growth for an extended period of time.
  • Symptom relief—when the cancer can’t be cured but causes symptoms such as pain, treatment – such as chemotherapy – can provide relief. This is called palliative treatment.