Do All Cancer Patients Need Chemotherapy As Their Treatment?

Chemotherapy is perhaps the best-known form of cancer treatment, as the intense drug destroys cancer cells and prevents any more from growing. 

While the drug, which can be taken orally or injected into the blood, can be used on a huge variety of cancers, not everyone who receives a diagnosis will need a course of chemotherapy. 

As it gets directly into the bloodstream to damage as many cancer cells as possible around the body, it is an effective treatment for blood cancers. Therefore, those with leukaemia and lymphomas are more than likely to receive a course of chemo. 

Chemotherapy can also be used to reduce the number of cancer cells before surgery or radiotherapy, treat advanced stages of cancer, or slow down the spread of cancer. In these cases, it can be used for any type of cancer, depending on how far along the patient is. 

Some doctors will also recommend having chemotherapy after surgery or radiotherapy to reduce the risk of it coming back. 

However, if a cancer has been detected early and the surgeons are confident they can remove the tumour entirely, chemotherapy might not be required. 

Additionally, there are some types of cancer that do not respond well to chemotherapy. 

Another reason why oncologists might not recommend chemotherapy to some patients is due to its many adverse side-effects, from fatigue to an increased chance of infection, vomiting to concentration struggles, and nerve damage to anaemia. 

If the doctor thinks the patient is not well enough to handle these side-effects, whether they are too old or their organs would not be able to cope with the extra strain, they might not be put forward for the treatment. 

Doctors will look at the type of cancer, how advanced it is, and the health condition of the patient to determine whether chemotherapy is the right course of action to take.