Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to the cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used:
There are many chemotherapy drugs. Most are a combination of drugs. The type of drugs are based on the kind of cancer and how you react to the drugs. Chemotherapy drugs for colorectal cancer may include:
Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer is usually given through an IV. Some forms can be given by mouth. Both are delivered in cycles over a period of time. A medical oncologist will decide how many cycles of chemotherapy are needed. The medical oncologist will also work to find what combo of drugs will work best.
Chemo drugs target fast growing cells like cancer cells. However, they can affect healthy cells as well. This can cause a range of side effects. Chemo regimen will be adjusted to have the most impact on the cancer cells and fewest effects on healthy tissue. Side effects or complications from chemotherapy may include:
Other treatment can help to ease some side effects. Medicine, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments may help. The chemotherapy regimen may also be adjusted if there are severe side effects. Early treatment may better control discomfort.
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Last reviewed December 2019 by Mohei Abouzied, MD Last Updated: 2/27/2020