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What is Chemo?

More than one million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Chemotherapy, a cancer treatment option, is used to rid the body of cancer cells, shrink the size of cancer before surgery or to relieve the symptoms and improve the quality of life with those with cancer. But what is chemo?

In this video, Dr. Keri Peterson explains how chemotherapy works and the effect it has on your body. Chemotherapy is typically used to rid the body of cancer cells, shrink the size of cancer prior to surgery, or to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with cancer.

She explains that chemotherapy works by infusing chemicals or drugs into the body. These drugs move throughout the system, seeking out cells that multiply and divide rapidly like cancer. Then the drug begins to act targeting and killing the cells that are multiplying. This treatment can shrink, or sometimes eliminate the cancer all together. And, since the drugs reach all parts of the body, chemotherapy can be effective even if the disease has spread.

Chemotherapy can be taken as a pill, an injection or sometimes it's applied as a skin cream. It can be given at any stage in the cancer treatment and will often be a part of a larger treatment strategy.

Dr Keri Peterson

This video features Dr Keri Peterson. Dr. Keri Peterson specializes in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and is board certified in Internal Medicine. She holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Duration: 1:52.
Reviewed by: Dr Helen Maliagros Scott, . Review date: May 26, 2017
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