Chemotherapy: Are there different types? | Norton Cancer Institute

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Mary Anderson,Oral Chemotherapy Registered Nurse Clinician, with the Norton Cancer Institute, explains the different types of chemotherapy treatments available and what to expect while going through treatments.

Most of the medication that we use to treat chemotherapy are still given in the IV or intravenously but we are seeing a large increase in the use of oral medications which are pills taken at home to treat cancer as well. Many of these medications that were giving today are called targeted agents. Targeted agents do just that, they target the cancer cells directly whereas chemotherapy treats the cancer but it affects all the cells in our body.

Sometimes a patient can take these oral pills at home with intravenous medicine in the clinic. Sometimes this is just medication that you take by itself. Some patients will even take chemotherapy with their radiation treatments. Medications to treat cancer can be given intravenously or it could be taken by mouth. There are several kinds of medication that can treat cancer.

The traditional chemotherapy and also what we have now called targeted agents; targeted agents can also be given in the IV intravenously like the chemotherapy and it can also be taken by mouth. Targeted agents target the cancer cells directly; they block the communication between the cancer cells whereas chemotherapy treats the cancer cells but it also affects all the cells in our body. Some patients might receive both. They might get an infusion as well as take the pills at home. You get chemotherapy by itself in the IV. Sometimes you might get a combination of chemotherapy in the IV with the targeted agent or you might be taking chemotherapy in your IV with a pill at home.

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