What Is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a term used by doctors to refer to drugs that can kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be given in a variety of ways, including intravenously by injection, intravenously with a pump, or even in pill form taken by mouth. Each drug works against a specific cancer, and each drug has specific doses and schedules for taking it. Chemotherapy can be given in a variety of situations:

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Primary chemotherapy is used when colorectal cancer is advanced and has already spread to different parts of your body. In this situation, surgery cannot eliminate the cancer, so your best bet is to be treated with chemotherapy, which may shrink tumors, alleviate symptoms, and prolong life.

Adjuvant chemotherapy is when chemotherapy is given after the cancer is surgically removed. The surgery may not eliminate all the cancer, so the adjuvant chemotherapy treatment is used to kill any cancer cells that may have been missed, such as cells that may have metastasized or spread to the liver.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is chemotherapy given before surgery. Chemotherapy drugs may be given prior to surgery in order to shrink the tumor so that the surgeon can completely remove it with fewer complications. Chemotherapy is also given with radiation, as it makes the radiation more effective.

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