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31

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Rectal 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 12

. 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.

3

Overview of cancer treatments

Chemotherapy

Figure 12

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. In growth phases, DNA

is copied and two full sets of chromosomes are made. A full set of chromosomes is pulled into

each end of the cell. The cell then divides into two cells each with their own set of chromosomes.

Copyright © 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network

®

(NCCN

®

).

www.nccn.org

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

I was in shock until my ignorance

began to be replaced by

information, then hope began to

reappear.

–Tom

Survivor, Stage III