Chemotherapy involves using powerful drugs to destroy tumor cells. A single drug or a combination may be used. The drugs are given by mouth or through an IV line or drip. Some medications are given through the shunt put in place to drain excess fluid from your brain. Another chemotherapy option is a wafer containing a cancer-killing drug. These chemotherapy wafers are inserted during surgery, most often to treat a brain tumor.
Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. A cycle consists of a short period of intensive treatment followed by a period of rest and recovery. Each cycle lasts a few weeks. Most treatments are designed so that two to four cycles are completed. There is then a break in the treatment to see how your tumor has responded to the therapy.
The side effects of chemotherapy are well known and can be difficult to tolerate for some people. They include nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, loss of appetite and loss of hair. Some of these side effects can be relieved or improved by medication.