We understand that a cancer diagnosis can be intimidating and overwhelming; however, our specialized physicians, oncologists, and caregivers will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you. Your plan may include two cancer treatment therapies in chemotherapy and biotherapy.

Overview of chemotherapy and biotherapy

Chemotherapy is the process of treating and eliminating cancerous cells through targeted chemical substances and medications. Sometimes these medications are called “anticancer” drugs. Chemotherapy may also be used to treat immune system diseases.

Biotherapy is similar, employing medications to booster the immune system, allowing it to better fight cancer and infection. In additional to limiting the spread of cancer, biotherapy drugs can also reduce some of the side effects of cancer and further improve the efficacy of chemotherapy treatments.

Treatment details

In treating cancer, one of the first priorities is to limit the spread of cancerous cells. Cancer cells are normal cells that have mutated and no longer behave normally, dividing and growing at an accelerated rate. Chemotherapy and biotherapy work to stop these cancer cells from dividing or growing. They can also help the immune system work more normally again, helping your body better heal itself and protect against additional illness. 

Chemotherapy may also be used to help a tumor shrink prior to surgery or radiation treatment, or to destroy any small groups of cells that may remain following surgery.

Chemotherapy and biotherapy are usually given in cycles. A cycle is one or more medications given on a single day or over several days in a row. The duration of each treatment could be minutes, hours, or even days, depending on how aggressive your treatment plan is. The frequency of treatments may be weekly, every other week, or monthly. And the length of treatment from start to finish could be from a few months to two years or more. 


Chemotherapy and biotherapy medications come in a variety of forms, some of which are administered in a doctor’s office and others which can be safely used at home. These forms include capsules or tablets, oral liquids, ointments and creams, injections, and IV medications. 

Your doctor and caregivers will monitor your progress through tests and exams to determine how the chemotherapy and biotherapy treatments are working, and if additional cycles are required. 

Chemotherapy and biotherapy treatments can help to cure your cancer, relieve symptoms, and help keep you feel more comfortable. Cancer can be discouraging. However Intermountain’s experienced team of cancer specialists and use of advanced therapies will help you beat your cancer, recover, and live the healthiest life possible.

© 2018 Intermountain Healthcare. All rights reserved. The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.