Your cancer

Living with the disease


What is it ?

Surgical options include:

Chemotherapy is the most widely used and proven cancer treatment. It is cytotoxic, meaning it stops cells from multiplying.

Chemotherapy is used to target tumor cells, which have uncontrolled growth, but it also affects rapidly dividing healthy cells (e.g, mucous membranes, hair, etc.)

How it works

There are a large number of chemotherapy molecules available in oncology/haematology..

Often referred to as molecules, they are distinguished by the phase of the cell cycle during which they act. 

The development of a cancerous tumor begins when a single cell starts to degenerate and proliferate in an uncontrolled and often rapid fashion.

The unhealthy cell divides into two, then those two cells divide into two, etc. etc. at an exponential and infinite rate. This proliferation is divided into several phases :

Cell growth


The cell’s genetic material
is multiplied by 2

Mitosis: the division of a single cell into 2 identical daughter cells

Chemotherapy is used at the above phases to control tumor growth.

To enhance the effectiveness of treatment, chemotherapy molecules are combined in what is called a chemotherapy protocol. The various treatments are often named by the initials of the products includes in the mix. 

These drugs can be available in different forms: most often intravenous but also oral, intramuscular or subcutaneous. 

Chemotherapy is a series of cycles, consisting of one or more molecules administered at regular intervals. 

The intervals between treatments are determined by the expected side effects and the mechanism of action of the molecules (to give the body time to recover). 

In some cases, chemotherapy is given orally in a series of regular doses.The number of cycles is often predetermined but will also depend on how the patient responds to treatment. Your oncologist will typically perform a full medical assessment, including blood and imaging tests, every two or three cycles to evaluate the treatment’s effectiveness.

Side Effects

Adverse effects from chemotherapy vary in frequency and intensity depending on the molecules used.

Allergic reaction

Subfertility or infertility

A fertility preservation strategy should be offered if applicable.


Loss of hair and body hair

(not systematic)

Digestive disorders

Nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, stomatitis (oral ulcers)

Biological anomalies (found in lab work):

Blood cell toxicity

The latter can cause symptoms such as : 

Anemia, leading to a decrease in hemoglobin (red blood cells)

Also leukopenia, which is a decrease in white blood cells (especially neutrophils, which protect against infection)

And finally, Thrombocytopenia caused by a decrease in platelets with a risk of bleeding.

Hepatic and renal toxicity

As the kidneys and liver are the primary organs to assimilate and process chemotherapy agents, their function can be disrupted following treatment.

While some side effects are immediate, such as fatigue, nausea, and vomiting, most will occur within 7-10 days of treatment. In most cases, side effects can be minimized or even prevented with specific treatments called pre-medications. 

Your oncologist will reinforce these preventive measures according to each individual’s tolerance and if necessary the dose of chemotherapy will also be adapted.


Chemotherapy is a systemic (general) treatment that impacts cancer wherever it is present in the body. 

It is most often used in metastatic (spreading) cancers,
but can be used effectively as a targeted therapy in at least two instances:

“Adjuvant” cases:
It can be used after a radical localized treatment to remove the tumor (surgery or radiation therapy) to minimize the risk of recurrence. 
Relapses can occur after localized treatment when microscopic cancer cells (not visible on scans or MRI) pass into the bloodstream. These can, sometimes years later, colonize other organs. When this risk is considered significant, chemotherapy may be recommended 4 to 6 weeks after the operation. 

En « néo-adjuvant » :
When the tumor remains localized but is difficult to remove surgically, targeted chemotherapy can be an option to reduce tumor size of the tumor for subsequent surgical removal. 

Intitulé du poste :
Spécialité :
Lieu d'exercice :
Publications :