Types of Chemotherapy Treatments

Updated at: Jul 12, 2012
Types of Chemotherapy Treatments

Patients are treated based on the type and stage of their cancer.

Gunjan Rastogi
CancerWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: Jul 12, 2012

Types of Chemotherapy Treatments

Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment method that uses various chemotherapy medications to kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy drugs are effective in treating several forms of cancer, but often cause short-term and long-term side-effects, such damage to DNA, hair loss, prolonged fatigue, nausea and reduced appetite. Chemotherapy is divided in three forms, which are discussed, here:

Adjuvant Chemotherapy

It is the most sought after chemotherapy treatment, which effectively disrupts the growth of the cancerous cells and controls the prevalent condition. This treatment uses a combination of chemotherapy drugs or a single drug as per the patient’s cancer stage and characteristics of his/her cancer type. The duration of the treatment course depends on the patient’s response to the drugs. On an average, this treatment continues for several weeks during which the patient receives several moderate sessions of chemotherapy.

Prolonged exposure to this type of chemotherapy kills the cancerous cells and significantly decreases the size of the tumour. There is, however, a risk of damage of healthy cells in this chemotherapy treatment. Following are the side-effects of adjuvant chemotherapy.


High-Dose Chemotherapy

High-dose chemotherapy is prescribed to patients, who are on the advanced stages of cancer. The patient receives higher doses of chemotherapy drugs over a short period unlike adjuvant chemotherapy in which moderate doses of chemotherapy medications are given over a period of several weeks. This type of chemotherapy results in more severe side-effects, such as

  • bone marrow destruction (requires a bone marrow transplant post cancer treatment)
  • infection due to weak immunity
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • pain and tingling
  • alopecia (hair loss)
  • anaemia.


According to a study published in Annals of Oncology in 2006, a combination of high-dose chemotherapy treatment and bone marrow transplant would be an effective treatment method for treating a rare form of bone cancer known as Ewing's sarcoma. The efficiency of this treatment method to cure other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer is under being researched on as of now.


Palliative Chemotherapy

Palliative chemotherapy is administered to reduce the severe pain and discomfort that is associated with an advanced cancer stage. This treatment method prevents further growth of the cancerous tumour though doctors are doubtful about its effectiveness in reducing the repercussions of last-stage cancer. According to Colon Cancer Resource, the aim of this treatment is to relieve the pain and other downsides of cancer rather than diminishing the tumours’ size. Patients receiving palliative chemotherapy, in some cases, are not hospitalised due to the progress of symptoms.


From the different chemotherapy treatment options, your doctor may choose one specifically for your cancer type or stage.


Read more articles on Chemotherapy



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