Chemotherapy treatment involves the administration of drugs that either kill cancer cells or prevent them from dividing. When given by mouth, or by injection or infusion into muscle or the bloodstream, it is termed systemic chemotherapy. When placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas. This is known as regional chemotherapy.
There are a number of medicines used in New Zealand for the treatment of bowel cancer. A number of chemotherapy drugs (for both early stage and metastatic bowel cancer) are publicaly funded in New Zealand by government funding agency PHARMAC. These are available to patients at no charge. These funded medicines are often used in combination with immunotherapy drugs in the treatment of metastatic bowel cancer.
Also known as ‘targeted’ therapies, are designed to selectively target cancer cells and the mechanisms that encourage their growth. They are currently not publicly funded in New Zealand however are available through co-share payment plans with pharmaceutical companies.