Published: Aug. 22, 2011
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
Chemotherapy involves administering drugs that kill cancer cells. It is usually an outpatient procedure.
Systemic chemotherapy is administered to the whole body via an oral medication or an injection. Regional chemotherapy is administered to just one part of the body such as the spinal cord, an organ such as the liver, or a part of the body such as the abdomen.
Chemotherapy may be used to destroy cancer cells before or after head and neck cancer surgery, or it may be used in combination with radiation to avoid surgery. For instance, forgoing surgery may spare the voice box and the ability to speak.
Chemotherapy is effective at killing cancer cells, but it can kill normal cells too, resulting in side effects. Your doctor will adjust your regimen to reduce side effects as much as possible.
Side effects of chemotherapy can include:
Learn more about head and neck cancer: