When chemotherapy is used
Having chemotherapy will depend on different factors. These include the type of the cancer you have, the risk of it coming back, if it has spread and your general health.
Chemotherapy can be used in the following ways:
as a main treatment for cancers, such as lymphomas and leukaemias
before surgery or radiotherapy to shrink a cancer (called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy)
after surgery or radiotherapy to reduce the risk of cancer coming back by treating any remaining cells (called adjuvant chemotherapy)
at the same time as radiotherapy to make it work better (called chemoradiation)
to treat cancer that has spread into surrounding tissues (locally advanced) or to other parts of the body. This may cure certain cancers but, more commonly, the aim is to shrink and control a cancer to try to prolong life, and to relieve symptoms. Chemotherapy to relieve symptoms is called palliative chemotherapy.
Your cancer doctor or chemotherapy specialist nurse will explain why chemotherapy is being advised in your situation. You can read more about this in our section on treatment planning.