Chemotherapy encompasses a wide variety of therapy treatments. Terms such as "adjuvant," "neoadjuvant," "consolidation," and "palliative" often add to the confusion surrounding chemotherapy if not properly defined and explained. The purpose of this page is to increase the level of understanding about various chemotherapy protocols currently used.
Chemotherapy given to destroy left-over (microscopic) cells that may be present after the known tumor is removed by surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given to prevent a possible cancer reoccurrence.
Chemotherapy given prior to the surgical procedure. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be given to attempt to shrink the cancer so that the surgical procedure may not need to be as extensive.
Chemotherapy given to induce a remission. This term is commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.
Chemotherapy given once a remission is achieved. The goal of this therapy is to sustain a remission. This term is commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.
Chemotherapy given in lower doses to assist in prolonging a remission. Maintenance chemotherapy is used only for certain types of cancer.
First line chemotherapy
Chemotherapy that has, through research studies and clinical trials, been determined to have the best probability of treating a given cancer.
Second line chemotherapy
Chemotherapy that is given if a disease has not responded or reoccurred after first line chemotherapy. Second line chemotherapy has, through research studies and clinical trials, been determined to be effective in treating a given cancer that has not responded or reoccurred after standard chemotherapy.
Palliative is a type of chemotherapy that is given specifically to address symptom management without expecting to cure the cancer.