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26

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Colon Cancer, Version 1.2017

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” includes drugs that

disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells. The types of

chemotherapy differ in the way they work. Some kill

cancer cells by damaging their DNA or by disrupting

the making of DNA. Others interfere with cell parts

that are needed for making new cells. Thus, no new

cells are made to replace dying cells. Chemotherapy

can affect both cancer and normal cells.

Some chemotherapy drugs work when cells are in

an active growth phase.

See Figure 10.

During the

active growth phase, cells grow and divide to form

a new cell. Chemotherapy that disrupts the growth

phase works well for cancer cells that are growing

and dividing quickly. Other chemotherapy drugs work

in any growth or resting phase.

What to expect

Chemotherapy regimens used for colon cancer

are listed in

Guide 2

. Sometimes, only one

drug is used. Other times, more than one drug is

used because drugs differ in the way they work.

A combination regimen is the use of two or more

chemotherapy drugs.

Most chemotherapy drugs for colon cancer are

liquids that are injected into your body. They are

almost always injected into a vein within your arm. A

slow injection is called an infusion. Bolus injections

are fast. Only capecitabine and trifluridine/tipiracil are

in pill form.

Chemotherapy will enter your bloodstream. Once in

the bloodstream, it can travel throughout your body

to treat cancer. Doctors use the term “systemic”

when talking about a cancer treatment for the whole

body.

Chemotherapy received by HAI (

h

epatic

a

rterial

i

nfusion) differs. Chemotherapy is given through a

port or pump within the artery supplying blood to the

liver. If a pump is used, it is placed within the artery

3

Overview of cancer treatments

Chemotherapy

Figure 10

Chemotherapy and the cell cycle

A cell goes through many changes to divide into two cells. Science has grouped these changes

into 7 main phases. There may be another phase of rest, too. Some chemotherapy drugs work in

any phase. Other chemotherapy drugs work in one or two growth phases.

Copyright © 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network

®

(NCCN

®

).

www.nccn.org

Chemotherapy may work in some or all phases of cell division.