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Treatment of diseases, including cancer, with chemicals. Some cancer drugs interfere with cancer-cell division or enzyme processes. However, they have serious side effects, attacking some healthy cells and reducing resistance to infection. Certain steroids are used to treat breast cancer and prostate cancer, leukemia, and lymphomas. Derivatives of plants such as periwinkle (vincristine, vinblastine) and yew (taxol) have been found effective against Hodgkin disease, leukemia, and breast cancer.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on chemotherapy, visit Britannica.com.