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Types of Chemotherapy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is chemotherapy (chemo)?

Chemo is medicine used to shrink a tumor or kill cancer cells. Chemo can help cure cancer, prevent cancer from spreading, and relieve symptoms caused by cancer. You may get chemo at home, in your healthcare provider's office, in a clinic, or in a hospital. Chemo may be given to you 1 or more ways. The way that you get chemotherapy may depend on:

What is oral chemo?

Oral chemo is given as a pill or liquid. It is usually taken at home.

What is intravenous (IV) chemo?

IV chemo is injected into your vein. Your healthcare provider may insert an IV each time you get chemo or use a central venous catheter (CVC). A CVC is an IV that is inserted through a large vein in your chest or arm. It stays in place for your entire treatment. It can also be used to remove blood for tests. Examples of CVCs include PICC lines and ports. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on CVCs.

What is intrathecal (IT) chemo?

IT chemo is injected into the fluid around your spine and brain. It may be given through a needle that is inserted into your spine or through a device in your brain. This device is called an Ommaya reservoir. It is inserted during a surgical procedure and stays in place for your entire treatment.

What is a chemo injection?

A chemo injection is given as a shot into your muscle or fat tissue.

What is intraperitoneal chemo?

Intraperitoneal chemo is injected through a small tube into the space around your abdominal or reproductive organs. It is often used to treat colon and ovarian cancer.

What is intrapleural chemo?

Intrapleural chemo is injected through a small tube into the area around your lungs. The tube may stay in place until treatment is finished. It may also be used to remove extra fluid from around your lung. Intrapleural chemo may be used to treat cancer in the lining of your lung or the fluid that surrounds your lung.

What is intra-arterial (IA) chemo?

IA chemo is injected into the artery that brings a tumor most of its blood. This type of chemo stays in one part of your body. This help decrease your risk for side effects. It may be used to treat a tumor in your liver, arm, or leg. IA chemo may also be known as regional chemo.

What is intralesional chemo?

Intralesional chemo is injected into the tumor. This chemo can help treat tumors close to the skin's surface or on the outside of an organ.

What is intravesical chemo?

Intravesical chemo is placed into the bladder through a catheter. The chemo usually stays in the bladder for 2 hours. Then chemo is drained from the bladder and the catheter is removed.

What is topical chemo?

Topical chemo is put onto your skin to treat skin cancer. It may be given as a cream, gel, or ointment.

Where can I find more information?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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