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Chemotherapy is a drug or combination of drugs that kill cancer cells wherever they are in the body.

Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.


Chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells all over the body. Anticancer drugs are usually injected, but some may be given orally. You may be treated in an outpatient part of the hospital, at the doctor's office, or at home. Rarely is a hospital stay needed. 

The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the specific drugs and the dose. The drugs can harm normal cells that divide rapidly. Your health care team can suggest ways to control many of these side effects. Most side effects usually go away after treatment ends.

The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health in the United States has compiled a helpful booklet titled Chemotherapy and You. The booklet is available as PDF, for Kindle or as an ePub.


Chemotherapy and You is for people who are about to receive or are now receiving chemotherapy for cancer. Family and friends may also want to read this booklet. This booklet is a guide you can refer to throughout your chemotherapy treatment. It includes facts about chemotherapy and its side effects. It highlights ways you can care for yourself before, during, and after treatment.

One of the first steps to fighting colon cancer is to arm yourself with knowledge and learn as much as you can about the disease and how it’s treated.

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