Cochise Oncology

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How Does Chemotherapy Work?

When doctors diagnose you with cancer, they will often recommend chemotherapy. You know that it’s a form of treatment, but how does it actually work?

Tucson Chemotherapy

The Purpose of Chemotherapy

All chemotherapy is for the treatment of cancer. However, its precise purpose depends on the doctor’s goals. 

Sometimes, oncologists use chemotherapy to cure cancer outright, alone or in combination with other procedures. Other times, they use it to kill hidden cancer cells that might remain following other treatments (such as immunotherapy or radiation). 

Doctors also use chemotherapy to prepare patients for treatment. It can shrink tumors down to a more manageable size, making other procedures, such as radiation and surgery, more effective. 

In many cases, chemotherapy is a way of managing cancer, not trying to get rid of it. These drugs can improve the quality of life in people with no prospect of remission. Sometimes, doctors will refer to this as “palliative” chemotherapy.

How Chemotherapy is Administered

Doctors at Cochise Oncology administer chemotherapy via several methods: 

  • Direct administration to the cancer cell: This procedure usually involves placing drug-laced discs close to tumors. 
  • Oral administration: Here you take chemotherapy as a pill, just like an over-the-counter painkiller.
  • Injections: Several cancer-fighting drugs work best when injected directly into the bloodstream via a needle. 
  • Infusions: Other drugs work best when administered via a drip into your veins. 
  • Regional drug administration: This type of chemotherapy involves administering medication directly to the affected tissues. 


Simply fill out the form on this page to request an appointment and one of our knowledgable team members will reach out to you. Or call our Sierra Vista oncology center to schedule directly at (520) 803-6644.

How Chemotherapy Works

Chemotherapy is a cancer-fighting treatment that works on a systemic level. When you receive drugs, either orally or via a needle, they get into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, seeking out cancer cells. 

Chemotherapy works by inhibiting the process that causes cells to divide. When you reach adulthood, most of your cells divide slowly. However, inside cancer tumors, divisions are rapid. Chemotherapy, therefore, temporarily prevents the cells of your body from dividing, stopping cancer in its tracks. 

The specific mechanisms that chemotherapy drugs use vary considerably. Some prevent cell divisions by damaging cancer cell’s control centers, called the nucleus. Others contain chemicals that prevent various stages in the cell division process. 

While chemotherapy is a highly effective treatment, it is non-selective. As a result, it is just as likely to target healthy cells as well as cancerous ones. However, because cancer cells divide much more rapidly than normal cells, they are most affected.


*Individual Results May Vary


At Cochise Oncology, we know optimal cancer treatment places the patient first – and our patients experience this every day. Read what our satisfied patients are saying about their experiences at Cochise Oncology.

Why Should You Consider Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a tried-and-tested method for treating cancer. First, you’ll meet with your oncologist and Cochise Oncology who will explain to you the various treatments available. Then you will receive drugs, either at your doctor’s office, in the hospital, or at home. 

Chemotherapy does have side effects, so we will discuss those with you. But it can be extremely effective against many types of cancer, sometimes negating the need for multiple treatment types. 

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to learn more about chemotherapy? Reach out to Cochise Oncology at (520) 803-6644 or fill out the consultation form on this page. We look forward to meeting you!

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