How Chemotherapy Works

Video Transcript

Our bodies develop and repair damage because our cells are constantly growing, duplicating their DNA, and dividing. Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth due to mutations in a normal cell that cause it to rapidly continue replicating.


A commonly used treatment for cancer is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a group of medications that kill cells. These medications are particularly damaging to rapidly dividing cells, which is why they can be so damaging to cancer. There are different types of chemotherapy, depending on the type of cancer being treated. Chemotherapy can be administered in multiple ways: through an IV known as an injection or infusion, orally, through a pill, or topically in the form of a cream. Chemotherapy works by damaging DNA so that a cell cannot fix the damage before it divides again. When this happens, it causes the cell to self-destruct.


Chemotherapies can cause side effects for patients who are taking them for treatment. This is because the medications are unable to discriminate between healthy cells and cancer cells. Some normal cells that have a high rate of division, like hair cells and the cells lining the digestive tract, can be affected by chemotherapy, which is why many cancer patients treated with chemotherapy experience hair loss and gastrointestinal issues. Fortunately, once chemotherapy is stopped, most of the side effects will disappear.


Caris is able to identify the mutations and determine which chemotherapy drugs will be the most beneficial in treating your cancer. Knowing the molecular composition of your tumor will tell your doctor a lot about how the cancer may behave, and what treatments may be most effective. The Caris profile will also show your doctor what drugs to avoid, to keep you from taking unnecessary medications with potential side effects.


FOLFOXai is a state-of-the-art-test that Caris performs for colorectal cancer that can predict how effective a specific regimen of chemotherapy will be and recommend the best sequence available. On average, studies have shown that patients live longer when using the treatment regimen consistent with the FOLFOXai prediction.

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Patient Education Videos

The Central Principles of Molecular Biology video series is meant to help explain molecular profiling and cancer, so that you can understand how Caris molecular profiling helps fight cancer through precision oncology.