What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of anti cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells.

How chemotherapy works

Chemotherapy works by killing cancer cells and has different effects on different types of cancer. You might have a combination of different chemotherapy drugs.

When you might have chemotherapy

Whether you have chemotherapy as part of your treatment depends on what type of cancer you have, how big it is and whether it has spread or not.

How you have chemotherapy

People usually have chemotherapy either at home, in hospital or at a day clinic. There are different ways of having chemotherapy drugs. Your doctor will talk about the most suitable option for you.

Planning chemotherapy

Doctors plan a course of chemotherapy treatment for each individual person. The treatment plan might change from time to time. 


Side effects of chemotherapy

Find out about the short and long term side effects of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy safety at home

Some of the by-products of systemic anti cancer therapy (SACT) come out of your body in your vomit, wee, poo, blood or other bodily fluids during and for some time after your treatment. This can be harmful to others. So you must take precautions if you go home.

Living with chemotherapy

Find out about living with chemotherapy, including how it might affect your everyday life and how to handle socialising and holidays.

Fertility and chemotherapy

Chemotherapy might affect your ability to have children (fertility). You might want to look into fertility treatments or get support to help you cope.

Sex and chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can sometimes affect your sex life. It can affect men and women differently. It's important to avoid pregnancy while you're having chemo.

Last reviewed: 
09 Sep 2020
Next review due: 
09 Sep 2023