Chemotherapy can be effective in the treatment of cancer, sometimes leading to full remission in spite of its adverse effects.
Effectiveness depends on individual factors.
Chemotherapy alone can, in some cases, achieve complete remission, where the patient is cured and the cancer does not return.
Sometimes, chemotherapy is combined with other treatments, such as radiation therapy or surgery, for more effective results. Neo-adjuvant therapy can be used to shrink a tumor before surgery.
Following surgery or remission, chemotherapy is used to remove any remaining cancer cells. Known as adjuvant therapy, this can delay or prevent the return of a cancer.
If a cancer is in the advanced stages, chemotherapy may slow disease progression and reduce symptoms, even when a cure is unlikely. This is palliative chemotherapy.