Steroids (sometimes called corticosteroids) are substances that are naturally produced in the body. They are made by the adrenal glands. There are two adrenal glands – one sits on top of each kidney.
Steroids help control many different functions in our bodies, such as the way the body uses food. They regulate our immune system and the balance of salt and water in our bodies. They also help to reduce inflammation.
Steroids can be manufactured into drugs and used for cancer treatment. They can be given as tablets or injections. There are different types of steroids and they all have different effects on the body. Common types of steroids used in cancer treatment are hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisolone and prednisolone.
Steroids can be used:
- as part of your treatment to help destroy cancer cells and make chemotherapy more effective
- to help reduce an allergic reaction to certain chemotherapy drugs
- in low doses as anti-sickness drugs
- to improve your appetite.