How Long Does Chemotherapy Stay in Your Body?

Chemotherapy agents are powerful drugs that are used to treat cancer throughout the body. Chemotherapy drugs work by a variety of different mechanisms, but their general effect is to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, which divide and proliferate quickly. Chemotherapy is administrated with the intention of eliminating cancer cells so that the infected body can survive … Read more

Does Cancer Cause Hair Loss?

It is widely assumed that if you have cancer, you will eventually lose all your hair. But is cancer itself the hair-loss culprit? The answer is no. Alopecia, or hair loss, occurs as a secondary result of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Both chemotherapy and radiation attack the rapidly growing cancer cells in your body. The … Read more

How Does Chemotherapy Affect Cancer Cells?

Chemotherapy agents can be divided into three major classes, based on the manner in which they act on cancer cells: Drugs that are active against dividing cells by targeting a specific phase of the cell cycle—the process by which cells duplicate their DNA and separate into two daughter cells. Drugs that are active against dividing … Read more

Chemotherapy Myths and Misconceptions [Podcast]

Chemotherapy has long been a mainstay of cancer treatment. But a lot has changed since Sidney Farber, MD, the founder of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, achieved the first remissions for pediatric leukemia using chemotherapy in the 1940s. Today, in the era of precision cancer medicine, there are newer treatments and chemotherapy that can more specifically target … Read more

What is Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy has been traditionally used as an “adjuvant” treatment in many patients with cancer — administered after surgery to kill microscopic tumor cells that remain in the body after surgical removal of the tumor. More recently, it has also come to be used in a “neoadjuvant” setting — to shrink tumors before they are surgically … Read more

How Is Chemotherapy Prepared?

Chemotherapy infusion is one of the most common and effective cancer treatments. It has been in use as a cancer treatment since the 1940s, when Dana-Farber founder Sidney Farber, MD, used it to achieve the first clinical remission ever reported for childhood leukemia. For a treatment that has been around such a long time, you … Read more

Why Does Chemotherapy Often Have Side Effects?

People experience side effects with varying levels of severity during their chemotherapy treatment. Due to advancements in palliative care, most people are able to manage their side effects during chemotherapy very effectively.

Can Cooling Caps Prevent Chemotherapy Hair Loss?

Scalp hypothermia, more commonly known as scalp cooling, is a relatively new treatment to try to prevent or reduce hair loss during chemotherapy. It involves placing a tight, cooled cap on the head before, during, and after each chemo session. The cooling cap is attached to a machine that circulates a liquid coolant through the … Read more

Biological Therapy and Chemotherapy: What Are the Differences?

Chemotherapy and biotherapy are both used to destroy cancer cells. So how are they different, and how are they similar? Traditional chemotherapy uses chemical substances to treat cancer. Biological therapy, by contrast, uses living organisms, substances derived from organisms, or laboratory-made versions of those substances to act against cancer cells. How does chemotherapy work? Most … Read more

How Is Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting Treated?

Along with hair loss, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy are among patients’ greatest concerns during cancer treatment. Fortunately, great strides have been made in the past decade or two, thanks to new generations of anti-nausea medications and better understanding of how to use them. Many patients won’t experience these distressing symptoms, or will have only … Read more

Tips for Managing Chemobrain

Many cancer patients experience “chemobrain” – mental clouding or fogginess – during and after chemotherapy treatment. The condition, which can also be worsened by surgery and radiation, can include symptoms like weakened short-term memory, problems finding words, short attention span, and difficulty concentrating and multitasking. Fremonta Meyer, MD, a clinical psychiatrist in Dana-Farber’s Department of … Read more

Tips for Managing Neuropathy

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a condition that is a result of nerve damage caused by cancer treatment, can be a frustrating side effect patients face. People with CIPN can experience tingling, numbness and pain in the arms, hands, legs and feet. Although there is no clear CIPN treatment that can improve nerve damage, a combination … Read more