We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Effective is Chemotherapy for Cancer?

By Ken Black
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The effectiveness of chemotherapy for cancer has been an issue that has been long debated in the medical community. Some put the effectiveness using the chemotherapy at as little as 2 percent to 4 percent. Others say the results of using chemotherapy for cancer are much higher. In most cases, the only thing the two sides agree on is that the effectiveness of chemotherapy is largely dependent on the stage and type of cancer the patient has.

To understand how effective using chemotherapy for cancer can be, the medical community may use a number of different measurements. One of the most common is the five-year survival rate after diagnosis. In one study published in the journal known as Clinical Oncology, nearly 38 percent of those with testicular cancer, and more than 40 percent of those with Hodgkin’s Disease, survived five years due to chemotherapy.

Other results in the survey were not nearly as promising. For example, only 2 percent of those with lung cancer survived to the five-year mark as a result of chemotherapy. That does not mean chemotherapy for cancer cannot extend lives. Even in late-stage lung cancer, those not using drugs had a survival rate of four months, versus 16 to 20 months for those who took chemotherapy. After a certain period of time, however, those taking chemotherapy for cancer often develop a resistance to the drugs.

In some cases, despite its lack of effectiveness with some types of conditions, taking chemotherapy for cancer may be the only option. Many other treatment options, such as radiation, only treat cells in a specific part of the body. If a cancer has spread, then chemotherapy, which can reach cells in all parts of the body, becomes a more likely course of treatment. Some chemotherapy drugs may be more effective in treating cancer in certain portions of the body, but typically a more general type of drug is prescribed.

One thing that opponents of using chemotherapy for cancer often point out is that chemotherapy may be credited for treating things like Hodgkin’s Disease, but that it may lead to other types of cancers. Some studies have found incidents of other types of cancers increased significantly in patient’s who had Hodgkin’s Disease, and underwent chemotherapy versus those who selected other treatment options. Thus, chemotherapy may actually play a role in causing cancer in some patients.

One major factor that may limit the effectiveness of chemotherapy for cancer is that doctors try to prescribe a dosage that allows for at least some enhanced quality of life. Chemotherapy is a drug that kills cells indiscriminately, which can lead to a myriad of side effects including nausea, fatigue and hair loss. If given in significant enough doses, the drug itself can be lethal. Therefore, doctors are limited on the dosages they can prescribe.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon998229 — On Apr 27, 2017

There are lots of effective natural treatments that are effective without doing harm. Chemo doesn't kill the "mother" cells so it comes back. Look it up. Stop feeding the cancer and start killing it with lifestyle changes and powerful herbs, mushrooms, and essential oils. Sadly, doctors are trained and "educated" by pharm sponsored schools and textbooks.

Those with a conscience and a brain educate themselves and heal their patients. Then they are mysteriously found dead. It's sickening! I just watched my brother-in-law die from chemo poisoning. There was no attempt to heal, just kill. Nobody ever mentioned that cancer loves sugar. No mention of any dietary change. That's just ignorant and wrong! MDs cannot tell you what is causing cancer or how to heal from it. They have no clue because it's not a part of their training. Sometimes you have to leave the country just to get real health care (not sick care).

By Rotergirl — On Feb 10, 2014

This is one of those "it depends" questions. There is no doubt many, many people are alive today who would have been dead 40 years ago before chemotherapy was as advanced as it is today.

Chemo is hellish, without question. However, many people get through it and go on to lead normal lives. It just depends on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Early treatment is nearly always the most successful kind.

Some cancers are just not vulnerable to chemo. In these cases, oncologists have to look at other therapies to help someone.

Some people want to rail against chemo and scream that it's poison and destructive, yadda, yadda, yadda. But the truth is, it's what's available right now. A good diet and exercise may help prevent cancer and may keep a cancer patient in better shape, but it can't do everything.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.