Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
This group of medications stops the growth of rapidly dividing cells in the body, both cancerous and noncancerous. While powerful, chemotherapy can cause more side effects than other medication types. Chemotherapy is a treatment option for many cancers, but there are cancers that respond better to other types of medication, surgery, or radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is a treatment option for many cancers. It may be recommended for early stage cancers, metastatic cancers, and if cancer recurs.
Our cancer care teams commonly recommend chemotherapy in addition to surgery, radiation therapy, and other drugs. You may have chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant) to shrink the tumor or chemotherapy or after surgery (adjuvant) to kill any cancer that may remain. Studies show that many cancers respond well to a low-dose chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy in a regimen called chemoradiation.