There are many types of chemotherapy drugs and they work in different ways. Sometimes doctors will prescribe a single drug, but often they’ll recommend combining two or more because they often work better together. Chemotherapy can be used on its own, but it’s often combined with other treatments like radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is designed to attack cells that are growing and multiplying. That’s because cancer cells grow and multiply faster than healthy cells.
Some healthy cells can be caught in the crossfire, as they can also be growing and dividing quickly. This can cause side effects such as nausea, tiredness and hair loss.
If you’re getting ready for a stem cell, bone marrow or cord blood transplant, you’ll also need chemotherapy to suppress your immune system and stop it attacking your donor’s new ‘foreign’ cells. This is called conditioning therapy.