If chemotherapy is needed, a medical/oncologist will coordinate this part of your care. Penn medical oncologists have a great deal of experience in the use of chemotherapy as part of an overall cancer treatment program and in chemotherapy research. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Depending upon the kind of cancer and its stage of development, chemotherapy can be used to:

  • Cure cancer
  • Prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body
  • Kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body
  • Decrease the size of a cancerous tumor
  • Relieve symptoms caused by cancer

*** WATCH VIDEO - Feeling Better Again: Coping with Chemotherapy ***

Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cancer cells and slowing or stopping the cell's ability to grow and multiply. Cancer cells go through many steps to grow. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs and each interferes with cell growth at a different step. Certain chemotherapy drugs are given only for certain diseases.

The most common ways to give chemotherapy are:

  • Oral (taking pills or capsules by mouth)
  • Intravenous (IV) (injecting medication into a vein)
  • Intramuscular (IM) (injecting medication into the muscle)
  • Sub-cutaneously (injecting medication into the skin)

Chemotherapy drugs can be delivered to specific body areas by using special techniques. Some examples are:

  • Intrathecal: Chemotherapy is placed directly into the central nervous system (brain /spinal cord)
  • Intra-arterial: Arteries are used to deliver chemotherapy directly to the organs
  • Intraperitoneal: Chemotherapy is delivered directly into the abdomen
  • Intravesical: Chemotherapy is placed in the bladder

The Abramson Cancer Center's chemotherapy suites offer:

  • Rooms, where patients receive chemotherapy accompanied, if they wish, by family or friends.
  • Each chemotherapy session includes treatment and education.
  • Counselors are also available to provide support.
  • On-site oncology pharmacies where medications are prepared and then administered in our chemotherapy suites.
  • Pharmacies staffed by experienced oncology pharmacists who will answer any questions you may have about the medications you receive.
  • A laboratory for blood drawing and on-site testing.
  • For your convenience, Penn medical oncology and chemotherapy services are available at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, and Presbyterian Medical Center.