Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. Cytotoxic means toxic to cells. These drugs affect the way cancer cells grow and divide, but they also affect normal cells.
Chemotherapy may be given:
- at the same time as your radiotherapy
- after radiotherapy to make treatment more effective
- as your main treatment
- if a brain tumour comes back after surgery and radiotherapy.
Information from research (clinical trials) helps doctors understand when chemotherapy is likely to be most effective. In some situations, it is still not yet clear how helpful chemotherapy is likely to be or when it should be given.
If this is the case, your doctor and nurse will explain. They will talk to you about the possible advantages and disadvantages of chemotherapy in your situation. Make sure you ask them for all the information you need and take your time making your decision. We have a booklet called Making treatment decisions that you may find helpful.
Chemotherapy is usually the main treatment for a lymphoma that starts in the brain (PCNSL).