What Are the Common Treatments for Cancer?

Every cancer patient is different, and there are many different types of cancer treatment that a patient may receive—all of which is dependent on their unique circumstances. A patient may only receive one type of treatment or a combination of multiple different treatments. Treatment can also have different goals. In some cases, treatment is used … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 removed. In some cases, … Continued

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 … Continued

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.

What is Targeted Cancer Therapy?

Targeted therapies take aim at the specific genetic changes and the proteins within cancer cells that drive their chaotic growth.

What to Expect at Your First Chemotherapy Appointment

Hear the word “chemotherapy” and you might immediately think about hair loss, nausea, and fatigue. But the truth is it’s not as scary as you might think. Here’s what to expect at your first chemotherapy appointment.

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 … Continued

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. Most chemotherapy drugs – formally … Continued

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 … Continued

Can Marijuana Benefit Cancer Patients?

Marijuana occupies a complicated position among the substances used to alleviate symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment. On the one hand, nearly half of U.S. states, mostly in the far west, northeast, and upper midwest, have legalized Cannabis (the plant from which marijuana is derived) for medical purposes. Others have legalized just one ingredient … Continued

How to Reduce Metallic Tastes During Cancer Treatment

Medically reviewed by Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can affect how your taste buds interact with different flavors, changing the way you experience certain food. A recurring metallic taste while eating or drinking water is one of the most common taste changes reported by patients. Although this symptom typically subsides after treatment … Continued

Worried About Chemo? Start with a Little Knowledge

Just hearing the word chemotherapy can bring forth a slew of worries and concerns for new cancer patients: “Does it hurt? Will it cause my hair to fall out? Is it safe for me to be around my loved ones? Will I feel nauseous or start vomiting as soon as treatment begins?” Such concerns are … Continued

How Long Does Chemotherapy Stay in Your Body?

Most chemotherapy drugs remain in the body for only a few hours or days. They’re broken down by the kidneys and liver and excreted in the urine, stool, or sweat. Chemotherapy agents are powerful drugs used to treat cancer throughout the body. Chemotherapy drugs work by a variety of different mechanisms. Their general effect is … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

How to Care for Your Skin After Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause changes to your skin during and after cancer treatment. Follow these tips and check in with your doctor regularly to ensure your skin is in the healthiest condition possible throughout your cancer experience. Chemotherapy Dry skin is a common side effect of chemotherapy. If you experience dry skin, using … Continued