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Chemotherapy FAQs

Southeast Radiation Oncology Center - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions About Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common type of cancer treatment, used to treat a wide variety of cancer conditions. Thanks to its ability to be customized to adapt to different cancer treatment scenarios and the personal health needs of the patient, medical oncologists have many options to consistently provide patients with reliable, flexible, and effective treatment. At Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, we provide support for patients in their battle against cancer by providing professional radiation therapy, as well as being an information resource with our database on different cancer conditions and treatments.

Since understanding treatment can often assuage fears that patients may have before starting it, we have put together the most frequently asked questions about chemotherapy.

What Is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a broader term used to refer to cancer treatment that utilizes a variety of cancer drugs to stop or slow down the spread of cancer or kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is administered by a medical oncologist, and can be used to treat a wide range of cancer conditions. The treatment itself is painless, but it often results in side effects that can give patients difficulty throughout treatment. These side effects can usually be managed with proper medical care and support. The treatment is spread out over the course of several sessions, with the length of treatment and the dosage of medication for each treatment depending on the patient’s condition and overall health.

What Are The Different Types Of Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy allows oncologists the freedom to customize cancer treatment based on the patients’ needs, since there are a myriad of drugs and medications that can be used to treat cancer, as well as many ways to administer it to patients. A medical oncologist will determine which drug or combination of drugs will best be suited to treat the patient’s condition based on the type, stage, and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. The way that the patients receives their chemotherapy can include: pills or liquid medication, topical creams, or an IV (intravenous).

What Does Chemotherapy Do To Cancer Cells?

Cancer cells are in a constant state of growth and multiplication, destroying healthy tissue in our body by overcrowding our healthy cells and invading other parts of the body. What chemotherapy drugs are designed to do is slow down or stop that growth rate, which can possibly prevent cancer from spreading or advancing to a later stage. To slow down the growth rate, the drugs can either damage the cells to hinder their ability to multiply, or kill them off completely.

Why Did My Oncologist Recommend Another Type Of Treatment In Addition To Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is just one of the many treatments available for cancer patients, with other common options being radiation therapy and surgery. Your doctor may recommend multiple types of treatment for your cancer in order to improve the chances of a positive outcome. For example, a radiation oncologist can precisely target and shrink a tumor with radiation therapy that can be more easily removed by a surgical oncologist, while your medical oncologist provides you with chemotherapy at a different treatment session to prevent the cancer from spreading.

Why Do Chemotherapy Patients Go Bald Or Lose Most Of Their Hair?

Since chemotherapy is designed to preserve the healthy tissue in our body, it only attacks cells that have high growth rates such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, there are other cells in our body that grow rapidly, including the ones in our hair and hair roots. As a result, the chemotherapy drugs kill or slow down the growth rate of these cells, resulting in the hair falling out.

Want to Learn More About Chemotherapy?

If you have questions about chemotherapy and didn’t find the answer among these frequently asked questions, just contact us at Southeast Radiation Oncology Center to get assistance from a member of our medical staff. We look forward to providing you with the quality cancer care that you deserve.


At Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, we know that cancer patients are best served by being treated in close proximity to a support network of family and friends. We offer patients in Southeast Alaska the ability to receive state-of-the-art radiation therapy without the burden of traveling great distances away from home.The information presented on this website is provided to allow our patients to gain more knowledge about our center, our staff, and our services.