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Chemotherapy

The use of synthetic or naturally-occurring chemicals for the treatment of diseases. It is particularly used to refer to the use of chemical-based agents to treat cancer. Chemotherapy may also include agents that enhance immune function or alter hormonal activity.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Cancer Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. These drugs often are called "anticancer" drugs. Anticancer drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or multiplying.

Healthy cells can also be harmed, especially those that divide quickly. Harm to healthy cells is what causes side effects. These cells usually repair themselves after chemotherapy. NIH - National Cancer Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Drug therapy for anxiety in palliative care

Anxiety is a common symptom in patients near the end of life. As with other areas of palliative care, the majority of available literature pertaining to drug therapy for anxiety is based on the reporting of anecdotes. A search of the international literature for randomised clinical trials in the area of drug therapy for symptoms of anxiety in palliative care yielded no results. As a consequence, it is not possible to assess the effectiveness of treatment options. It is hoped that this review will motivate future research in this area.

Drug therapy for pain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND), is the most common neurodegenerative disorder of the motor system in adults. Pain is a frequent symptom and may have a pronounced impact on quality of life and suffering. Despite an extensive search of different medical databases, this review was not able to identify any randomised controlled trials on drug therapy for pain in ALS. Currently (to July 2012) no evidence exists for using one type of treatment over another.

Drug therapy for chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy

Chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy is a frequent disorder in elderly persons that is characterised by very slowly progressive numbness or weakness of the feet and lower legs, and sometimes the hands. By definition, the cause is not known. No randomised trials of drug treatment for chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy have been conducted. Trials will need sensitive outcome measures and long follow‐up periods. This is an updated review.

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Summaries for consumers

Drug therapy for anxiety in palliative care

Anxiety is a common symptom in patients near the end of life. As with other areas of palliative care, the majority of available literature pertaining to drug therapy for anxiety is based on the reporting of anecdotes. A search of the international literature for randomised clinical trials in the area of drug therapy for symptoms of anxiety in palliative care yielded no results. As a consequence, it is not possible to assess the effectiveness of treatment options. It is hoped that this review will motivate future research in this area.

Drug therapy for pain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND), is the most common neurodegenerative disorder of the motor system in adults. Pain is a frequent symptom and may have a pronounced impact on quality of life and suffering. Despite an extensive search of different medical databases, this review was not able to identify any randomised controlled trials on drug therapy for pain in ALS. Currently (to July 2012) no evidence exists for using one type of treatment over another.

Drug therapy for chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy

Chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy is a frequent disorder in elderly persons that is characterised by very slowly progressive numbness or weakness of the feet and lower legs, and sometimes the hands. By definition, the cause is not known. No randomised trials of drug treatment for chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy have been conducted. Trials will need sensitive outcome measures and long follow‐up periods. This is an updated review.

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Terms to know

Adjunct Therapy
Another treatment used together with the primary treatment. Its purpose is to assist the primary treatment. Also called adjunctive therapy.
Adjuvant Therapy
Additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or biological therapy.
Chemosensitivity
The susceptibility of tumor cells to the cell-killing effects of anticancer drugs.
Hair Loss (Alopecia)
The lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair is usually found.
Neoadjuvant Therapy
Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumor before the main treatment, which is usually surgery, is given. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. It is a type of induction therapy.

More about Chemotherapy

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Other terms to know: See all 5
Adjunct Therapy, Adjuvant Therapy, Chemosensitivity

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