Chemotherapy is a drug treatment for cancer. This is also referred to as cytostatics.

How does chemotherapy work?

  • the medication enters the bloodstream and spreads to the entire body
  • the aim: inhibit the growth of malignant cells, stop them from multiplying and cause them to die
  • the waste products of these broken down cells and the residues of the chemotherapy products leave the body largely via the kidneys
  • important: take plenty of fluids: 1.5 to 2 litres per day
  • chemotherapy can also affect normal, healthy cells in the body. This is reflected in possible side effects, but this varies from person to person and also depends on the type and duration of the treatment. Once the treatment is complete, these cells recover and the side effects disappear.

Administration of chemotherapy

Different ways are possible, depending on the type of drug and the duration of therapy:

  • by mouth in the form of capsules or tablets
  • via subcutaneous injection
  • by injection into the muscle tissue
  • by injection into the spinal cord
  • via a catheter inserted into a vein in the arm
  • via port catheter or port-a-cath®

Possible side effects of chemotherapy

The severity and nature of side effects depend on the type of chemotherapy you receive.
However, experiencing no side effects does not mean that the chemotherapy does not work. Some patients will suffer more than others from the side effects (these include fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, changes in taste and smell, etc.). Not all possible side effects are mentioned, as not everyone suffers from them.
Always discuss side effects with your doctor or one of the nurses. In this way, a solution can be sought.

Last modified on 6 July 2022


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