What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a method to treat various kinds of cancer, by administering drugs which kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used to try to either cure cancer, to control the growth of cancer or in some cases, to ease the symptoms of painful tumours.

Chemotherapy is also used in conjunction with other treatment methods to enhance the cancer killing effect. It may be used to shrink a tumour before continuing with other treatment options such as radiation therapy or surgery or to destroy the remaining cancer cells after other treatments have been done. Otherwise, chemotherapy is often used for those with returning cancer or spreading (metastasised) cancer cells.

This kind of treatment can be used to kill cancer cells, prevent cancer cells from spreading or to alleviate the complications of cancer, and thus prolong and enhance the quality of life.

How does chemotherapy work?

Chemotherapy is designed to prevent or stop the growth of abnormal cancer cells. Sadly, chemotherapy does attack healthy cells in the process as well, which can cause uncomfortable side effects like hair loss, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Dr Ford takes a holistic approach to cancer treatment, and therefore integrates palliative care right from the beginning. Chemotherapy treatment is usually done in an outpatient clinic by her experienced team. It can be administered in a number of ways which will be discussed with you.

You may need to receive chemotherapy in cycles, with periods of rest in between to allow normal cells to recover when harmed in the process. How much chemotherapy and how often you will be scheduled for treatment will depend on the type and stage of cancer you have been diagnosed with. Dr Ford will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your treatment and prioritise your comfort at all stages of your journey.

What can be done about the side effects?

Although chemotherapy can cause side effects such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting and fatigue, these side effects can be counteracted and lessened with the use of medications to make your cancer battle less painful and comfortable.

Whether or not cure is possible, Dr Ford takes care in using chemotherapy as a treatment to alleviating the painful and uncomfortable side effects of cancer in order to enhance the quality of life while controlling cancer and striving to shrink tumours.