Chemotherapy / Day Chemotherapy

This is where you are admitted for a couple of hours to receive chemotherapy intravenously i.e. through a drip. Then on completion you will be discharged. Sometimes you will be admitted as an inpatient if the treatment takes more than a few hours.



Chemotherapy

The word chemotherapy was once used to mean any medicine for treating any disease. Even taking an aspirin would be chemotherapy. However these days, chemotherapy is most often used to mean taking medicines or drugs, to treat cancer. You might take these drugs before or after surgery, with radiation therapy or you might take the drugs by themselves.

Most chemotherapy drugs are given in 1 of the following ways:

  • You might simply swallow a pill. If your chemotherapy is a pill, just swallow it as your doctor prescribes.
  • Sometimes chemotherapy is given like a flu shot. The shots may be given in your doctor's office, a hospital, a clinic, or at home.
  • Sometimes drugs are given right into your veins through a needle. This is called an IV (intravenous) injection.

You may take chemotherapy once a day, once a week, or even once a month, depending on the type of cancer you have and the chemotherapy you are taking.

Some people have no side effects at all from chemotherapy. Sometimes, however, chemotherapy will make you feel sick. This is because the drugs being used are very strong. They go after any cell that is quickly dividing, whether it's a cancer cell or not. So some non-cancer cells in the body that divide quickly are also damaged.



Common Side Effects

  • Sore mouth / ulcer
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of hair/ thinning
  • Tiredness and high risk for infection


Preventing and Treating Side Effects

The good news is that there are things you can do to lessen or to get rid of some of these side effects.

  • You can take some medicines at the same time as your chemotherapy to prevent vomiting or feeling sick.
  • New drugs called growth factors can be given as injections to help the bone marrow recover from chemotherapy and start making new blood cells.
  • Transfusions of red blood cells or platelets from blood donors help many people.

Remember that not everyone gets the same chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy for some cancers may be much stronger and cause more side effects than other drugs. Also, everybody is different. Your general state of health and fitness will affect how your body reacts to chemotherapy.

You may be able to go on with what you normally do while you are on chemotherapy. You may not have to stop working or be on a special diet. On the other hand, some people need to be in the hospital so that doctors can watch them closely and treat certain side effects. Ask your cancer care team what you will be able to do while you’re being treated.