Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment.  It involves the use of drugs or chemical agents to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.   

Preparation for Chemotherapy: An oncologist will determine the type of treatment that will be given. This will depend on many factors including the type of cancer being treated, the age of the patient and the general health of the patient. Some cancers are more aggressive than others and will require a more aggressive treatment of chemotherapy. Others are cancers that can be treated by taking a pill or using a special cream.

The preparation for the procedure depends on the type of treatment you will receive. For patients receiving chemotherapy intravenously, they may require a catheter to be placed under their skin. This allows for the medicine to get into the bloodstream without having to touch areas of the skin when injecting the needle into a vein.  If a doctor recommends a catheter be placed, an operation will be necessary to implant the catheter. When chemotherapy treatment starts, the patient will lie down in a room on a couch or bed and will be hooked up to the IV’s.  There may be a few different bags of chemotherapy that will be given to the patient.  This is sometimes referred to as a “cocktail” of chemo drugs.  

Procedure: If you are receiving the chemotherapy intravenously, the IV needle will be inserted into your catheter or vein. The drip will start and can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours. This all depends on how aggressive your cancer is and the type of treatment your doctor has determined is right for you.  If you are receiving the chemotherapy by injection, a nurse or doctor will give you the injection of chemotherapy. If you are taking chemotherapy in pill or liquid form, you will be given instructions on how to take the medicine.  It’s important to follow the instructions exactly.  

Types Of Or Techniques Used:  Chemotherapy can be administered or taken in many different techniques.  Intravenously in a hospital or clinic, through injection by a doctor or oncology nurse, pill or liquid form that is taken at home or a cream that is rubbed onto the skin.  Your oncologist will determine the technique to be used for your particular type of cancer.  

Recovery Time: Advances in chemotherapy allow for quicker recovery time. Some may return to work the same day after receiving treatment while others will take several days to recover.  It all depends on the course of treatment delivered and how your body reacts to it.  Getting adequate amount of rest and drinking lots of fluids may help speed up recovery time or at least help you feel a little better. 

Chemotherapy Side Effects: As mentioned above, there are many new advances in chemotherapy medicine that minimize the risks and side effects that may have been felt by patients years ago. Chemotherapy is often feared because of the side effects that have been associated by it.  But depending on your course of treatment, you may not feel any side effects at all. Other patients who receive aggressive doses of chemotherapy may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, loss of appetite, mouth sores and hair loss.

Your oncologist can help you manage the side effects by prescribing medicine to help ease your symptoms. Because chemotherapy destroys all fast growing cells, it can destroy white blood cells and raise the risk of infections and make the patient more susceptible to sicknesses. Talk to your doctor about these risks and how to avoid them.  Chemotherapy also destroys the fast growing hair cells; therefore some hair loss may occur.  It’s important to understand the seriousness of cancer and to keep in mind that the benefits of chemotherapy greatly outweigh the risks.  For more information, please visit chemotherapy side effects.

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