Also known as: chemo.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a common form of cancer treatment. It refers to drugs that are often used to kill cancer cells and prevent them from coming back. The medications are given by vein or orally and may produce some side effects.

What happens during the procedure?

Though chemotherapy is given to treat cancer, the way in which it is delivered to the patient can vary widely. The drugs can be given with an injection, in a pill, through an IV bag or via skin injection. The frequency with which a patient receives the drug may range from daily to monthly. Also, the strength of the drugs will also vary based on the type and severity of the cancer that a person has.

Is any special preparation needed?

Patients may require several tests prior to receiving chemotherapy. The drugs can cause many side effects, and doctors often need to determine if patients are healthy enough to receive the treatments.

What are the risk factors?

Diarrhea, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, mouth sores, pain, constipation and bruising are just a few of the side effects of chemotherapy. The treatments can cause long-term damage such as infertility, heart problems, nerve damage, lung problems and others.

The pediatrician will try to minimize these side effects and treat any if they occur.

Reviewed by: Ziad A Khatib, MD

This page was last updated on: December 16, 2020 10:58 AM

Pediatric Oncology and Hematology

The Helen & Jacob Shaham Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute is transforming care so that no child has to leave the state of Florida for leading-edge cancer treatment.

Learn More