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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” is the use of strong medicines to damage the cancer cell’s ability to grow and spread. It is the most common treatment for cancer and can often be used with other treatments for better results.

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As the region's most comprehensive brain tumor center for adults, we know that offering hope means delivering leading-edge treatments and world-class care. We understand that each brain tumor is unique to each patient, so we bring together an expert team of physicians across subspecialties to review every case and determine the best course of treatment. Our team is committed to helping you and your family along the way.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Health Brain Tumor team at 513-418-2282.

As the region's only triple-accredited breast cancer center, our promise to you is world-class care delivered with deep compassion. Our experts are physicians and researchers who relentlessly pursue the best and latest treatments for your breast cancer, offering you hope for your diagnosis.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Breast Cancer team at 513-584-5023.

We focus the expertise of the region’s most advanced gastrointestinal cancer team on delivering only the best results. Our nationally recognized cancer subspecialists offer you access to standard therapies as well as the latest treatments and leading-edge clinical trials.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Gastrointestinal Cancer team at 513-584-8900.

We understand that a cancer diagnosis can be frightening. We are here to offer hope. Our team specializes in delivering innovative and discovery-driven medicine to help you overcome your cancer.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Genitourinary Cancer team at 513-475-8000.

At the UC Head & Neck Cancer Center, our subspecialists are experts in even the most complex and rarest forms of head and neck cancers. We work together to deliver highly specialized, world-class care.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Head & Neck Cancer team at 513-475-8444.

Our subspecialists offer the most advanced care in the region for blood and bone marrow cancers in adults. We deliver personalized treatments backed by the latest research to offer hope in overcoming your disease.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Hematologic Malignancies & Bone Marrow Transplant team at 513-584-4BMT (4268).

We are the region's most advanced lung cancer center, offering you the right treatments delivered with deep compassion. Our highly trained experts collaborate to deliver innovative techniques and therapies tailored to your cancer.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Lung Cancer team at 513-584-LUNG (5864).

Help Along the Way

Answers to Your Chemotherapy Questions

Chemotherapy is the use of oral or intravenous (IV) anticancer drugs to treat cancer cells throughout the body. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce. Chemotherapy may be used alone (single-agent) for some types of cancer, or in combination with other treatments such as radiation or surgery. In some cases, a regimen in which more than one drug is used increases the odds that certain types of cancer cells will be killed.

While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, chemotherapy drugs spread to all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help you and your caregivers prepare and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring.

To reduce the damage to healthy cells and to give them a chance to recover, chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. Chemotherapy may be given daily, weekly, every few weeks or monthly, depending on your situation.

Chemotherapy is usually given in an outpatient setting, such as a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office. Patients receiving chemotherapy will be watched for reactions during treatments. Since each chemotherapy treatment session can last for a long period of time, patients are encouraged to bring things that are comforting and pass the time, like music, a deck of cards or a book to read.

Chemoresistance is your body’s resistance to chemo, or cancer therapy. There are two types of chemoresistance:

  • Primary resistance: When the cancer does not respond to the first treatment.

  • Secondary resistance: When the cancer responds to a treatment for a period of time but then stops responding.

Cancers can develop resistance to chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or targeted therapy by improving their ability to get rid of the anticancer drug or find new ways within the cell to trigger cancer growth that are not affected by the anticancer drug.

There are ways to overcome resistance to treatment, like changing treatment to target the cancer cells from a different angle. Another way to overcome resistance to treatment is by adding a medication to block the pathways that are responsible for the resistance, leaving the cancer sensitive again to the same or a similar treatment.

Many different kinds of chemo medicines are used to treat cancer. Nearly all of them cause side effects.

Side effects may occur just after treatment (within minutes, hours, days or weeks). They may happen months or even years later after chemo has been given. Side effects may be severe, mild or absent. Each person's medical history, overall health and diagnosis is different. So is the reaction to treatment.

Side effects depend on the chemo medicines used and the combinations used. Before treatment starts, talk with your cancer care team about the possible side effects of your treatment. Ask about each medicine's side effects. Get written information on each medicine you're getting so you know what to watch for and what to report to your healthcare provider.

Some of the most common short-term side effects include:

  • Extreme tiredness.

  • Increased risk for infection.

  • Easy bruising and bleeding.

  • Mouth and throat sores.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Constipation.

  • Hair loss.

  • Skin and nail changes.

  • Nerve damage.

  • No desire to eat.

  • Weight gain or loss.

  • Changes in your memory or thinking.

Possible long-term side effects include:

  • Not able to have children (infertility).

  • Memory or thinking changes.

  • Damage to certain organs, like your heart, bladder or lungs.

  • Increased risk for other kinds of cancer

Many of the short-term side effects can be controlled or even prevented. Most get better during the resting part of the chemo cycle. They usually go away over time after treatment is done.

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Science-Driven Care

As part of UC Health, our comprehensive teams offer patients advanced care backed by the latest science delivered with deep compassion.

Clinical Trials and Research

The University of Cincinnati Cancer Center participates in National Cancer Institute-sponsored cooperative group trials, select industry-sponsored studies and UC investigator-initiated clinical research studies to test promising new cancer therapies.

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Referring Physicians: Success and Provider Toolbox

We are committed to providing optimal care to your patient and open communication with you. We understand that as a referring physician, you need to be kept informed on your patient’s progress. That’s why we set up a toolbox to share detailed information about your patient’s health with you.

For referral information, call:

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