- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- Treatment for advanced cancer
Chemotherapy is the most commonly used treatment when cancer has spread. It circulates throughout the body to affect cells that divide rapidly such as cancer cells. It can kill cancer cells or slow their growth.
There are many types of chemotherapy drugs, and these are often used in different combinations and strengths. Treatment is usually given over a few hours or days, followed by a rest period of 1–4 weeks. Most people have several cycles of treatment. Chemotherapy drugs are usually given by injection or drip into a vein (intravenously) in hospital, but some can also be taken as tablets or capsules (orally) at home.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause:
- bowel changes
- hair loss.
Most side effects are temporary and can be prevented or reduced. Different types of chemotherapy drugs have different side effects – for instance, not all of them cause hair loss.
Podcast: Treatment Options for Advanced Cancer
Dr Lucy Gately, Medical Oncologist, Alfred Health and Walter and Eliza Institute for Medical Research, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Supportive and Palliative Care Specialist, Westmead Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Megan Best, The University of Notre Dame Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Keiron Bradley, Palliative Care Consultant, Medical Director Palliative Care Program, Bethesda Health Care, WA; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Emeritus Professor Phyllis Butow, Psychologist, The University of Sydney and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Louise Durham, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Metro South Palliative Care, QLD; Dr Roya Merie, Radiation Oncologist, ICON Cancer Centre, Concord, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Xanthe Sansome, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Sparke Helmore Lawyers; Peter Spolc, Consumer.
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