Welcome to




Chemotherapy consists of cytotoxic (hurtful to cells) chemicals that will preferentially kill tumor cells. Chemotherapy is typically given intravenously (into the veins), orally or intrathecally (i.e., instilled via one of the CSF [cerebrospinal fluid] compartments). Rapidly dividing tissues such as tumors, blood-forming cells, cells lining the gut, hair follicles and the body's immune system are highly susceptible to the chemotherapy. The side effects of chemotherapy are usually short term, and recovery occurs in a matter of weeks.

New supportive care measures such as hormones (to help the bone marrow recover) and anti-nausea medications have lessened some of the risks of chemotherapy. These measures have permitted escalation of the dose of certain chemotherapies. Some chemotherapy may affect the function of other organs, such as nerves (vincristine), hearing (cisplatin) and kidneys (cisplatin, ifosfamide). Each chemotherapy protocol will combine the best drugs for your child's needs. Chemotherapy is useful not only for rapidly dividing tumors, but also for slow-growing tumors such as astrocytomas. A discussion of the specific side effects relevant to your child's care will be provided by your oncologist and nurse specialist.