Chemotherapy and Adjuvant Chemotherapy
Coined by Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915) in the original sense “chemotherapy” referred to any chemical which would bind to and kill microbes or tumor cells. In oncology, chemotherapy refers to drug therapy for cancer, “chemo” for short. Most cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are given intravenously or intramuscularly. Some anticancer agents are taken by mouth. Chemotherapy is usually systemic treatment, meaning that the drugs flow through the bloodstream to every part of the body. Chemothearpy is often very toxic to the patient and in many cases kills the patient before the cancer and kill the patient. Many patients stop their chemo due to side-effects which are simply intolerably painful, prefering to die from the cancer.
Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery to remove a cancer. The idea is that the toxic drugs are more effective after the main tumor has been removed and any cancer that remains is in microscopic amounts. For example, in a case of colon cancer, the primary tumor would first be removed, then adjuvant chemotherapy would be carried out. The chemotherapy drugs might be given intravenously and/or instilled directly into the abdomen.