Chemotherapy (sometimes just called “chemo”) is the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. The drugs are also called cytotoxics, which means toxic to cells (cyto). Some drugs come from natural sources such as plants, while others are completely made in a laboratory.
Learn more about:
- Common questions about chemotherapy
- Your health care team
- Chemotherapy treatment explained
- Chemotherapy safety
- Is the treatment working?
- Managing chemotherapy side effects
- Life after chemotherapy
- Questions for your doctor
- Video: What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy for children
The information here is for adults having chemotherapy, although much of it will also be relevant for children. Talk to your treatment team for specific information and age-appropriate resources about chemotherapy for children.
You can also check out:
- Cancer Australia Children’s Cancer – for information about children’s cancers.
- Camp Quality – supports children aged 0–13 and their families. Call 1300 662 267.
- CanTeen – supports young people aged 12–25 who have been affected by cancer. Call 1800 226 833.
- See Talking to kids about cancer or listen to our podcast on Explaining Cancer to Kids.
Video: What is chemotherapy?
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Clinical A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Queensland Health, QLD; Gillian Blanchard, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Stacey Burton, Consumer; Dr Fiona Day, Staff Specialist, Medical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, NSW; Andrew Greig, Consumer; Steve Higgs, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Coping with cancer?
Ask a health professional or someone who’s been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment