chemotherapy (kē´mōthĕr´əpē), treatment of disease with chemicals or drugs. One chemotherapeutic approach is the development of selectively toxic substances, i.e., substances that can destroy or inhibit infecting organisms or, as in cancer, malignant tissue, but do not damage normal host tissue. In treating infection, selectively toxic agents may block a biochemical reaction necessary to the viability of the pathogen but not to that of the host; for example, penicillin blocks synthesis of bacterial cell walls, a component animal cells lack. Other chemotherapeutic substances differentially affect biochemical reactions in different tissues; thus antimetabolites such as methotrexate and Cytoxan are more toxic to rapidly proliferating cells such as those associated with cancer than to normal cells. Other drugs act in various ways to produce effects that initiate or enhance some normal body function; for instance, neostigmine blocks the action of an enzyme limiting transmission of nerve impulses and thereby acts as a nervous system stimulant. The usefulness of chemotherapeutic agents also depends on their pharmacological action, e.g., their rate of absorption, rapidity of action and rate of excretion, degree of storage in the body, effects of products of their metabolic breakdown, and potential for causing hypersensitivity reactions. Some drugs are given prophylactically, to prevent infection, e.g., penicillin is given to rheumatic fever patients to prevent reinfection by the causative organism, the streptococcal bacterium.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Chemotherapy: Selected full-text books and articles

Confronting Cancer: How to Care for Today and Tomorrow By Michael M. Sherry Insight Books, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "Chemotherapy and Hormonal Therapy"
Childhood Cancer: A Handbook from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with Contributions from St. Jude Clinicians and Scientists By R. Grant Steen; Joseph Mirro Perseus Publishing, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Chemotherapy"
Breast Cancer? Let Me Check My Schedule By Peggy McCarthy; Jo An Loren Westview Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 52
Prostate Cancer: Portraits of Empowerment By Nadine Jelsing Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 199
The Child with Cancer: Family-Centred Care in Practice By Helen Langton; Anne Casey Balliere Tindall, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 91
Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook of Psychosocial Care By David Spiegel; Catherine Classen Basic Books, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 17
Getting Doctors to Listen: Ethics and Outcomes Data in Context By Philip J. Boyle Georgetown University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "'Rescue' Technologies following High-Dose Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: How Social Context Shapes the Assessment of Innovative, Aggressive, and Lifesaving Medical Technologies" begins on p. 126
Sexuality, Body Image and Quality of Life after High Dose or Conventional Chemotherapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer By Makar, Kami; Cumming, Ceinwen E.; Lees, Alan W.; Hundleby, Marilyn; Nabholtz, Jean-Marc; Kieren, Dianne K.; Jenkins, Heather; Wentzel, Carolyn; Handman, Michael; Cumming, David C The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1997
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Processing of Medical Information in Aging Patients: Cognitive and Human Factors Perspectives By Denise C. Park; Roger W. Morrell; Kim Shifren Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Medical and Psychosocial Predictors of Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions"
Understanding Breast Cancer By Joy Ogden Wiley, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Chemotherapy"
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