Chemotherapy Care

Learn what care is required for the Chemotherapy procedure. Find out what you need to do prior to the procedure, how long it will take, if you will be required to stay in the hospital and what the postoperative care is.


Chemotherapy Details

What to Expect Prior to Procedure

You may be asked to take some pre-medicines such as:

  • Steroids
  • Allergy medicines (anti-histamines)
  • Anti-nausea medicines
  • Sedatives
  • Antibiotics
Description of the Procedure

Your doctor will talk to you about the best route for the medicine(s). Chemotherapy drugs may be given in several ways:

  • By mouth
  • By injection into a muscle or vein (IV)
  • By catheter tube into the bladder, abdomen, chest cavity, brain, spinal cord, or liver
  • By application to the skin

How Long Will It Take?

This depends on the route used, the number of medicines, and the amount of each medicine. A session may be as brief as the time it takes to swallow a pill. It could also take several hours or last overnight. Some types of chemotherapy can be given as a continuous infusion through a portable pump.

Will It Hurt?

The treatment may cause a number of uncomfortable side effects. The delivery of the chemotherapy usually does not hurt.

Average Hospital Stay

Most often, you can leave after the medicine is delivered. Some chemotherapy regimens will require a stay in the hospital. This may be about 2-3 days.

Your doctor may choose to keep you in the hospital if excessive complications arise. For example, if you have severe vomiting, you may need to be admitted to the hospital.

Post-procedure Care At the Hospital

You may be given any of the following:

  • Medicines to take at home (eg, anti-nausea)
  • Injections of an immune-system boosting drug
  • Other drugs, including steroids, allergy medicines (anti-histamines), anti-nausea medicines, sedatives, and antibiotics

At Home

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Get a lot of sleep.
  • Try to do some physical activity each day. Exercise can help to reduce fatigue.
  • Try to eat a healthy diet. Appetite changes can be a challenge.
  • Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration .
  • Use special mouth rinses to avoid or treat mouth sores.
  • Administer post-chemotherapy shots if they are prescribed by your doctor. These will help to keep your white blood count stable.
  • Try to avoid people with diseases that can be spread easily, including children. Chemotherapy will likely weaken your immune system. Viral illness (eg, cold or flu ) can have serious effects.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .

Your doctor may order any of the following tests to check the progress of your treatment:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • X-ray -a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
  • Ultrasound -a test that uses sound waves to find tumors
  • MRI scan -a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
  • CT scan -a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
  • Bone scans -a type of x-ray that shows areas of unusual activity
  • Bone marrow biopsies -the removal of a sample of bone marrow for examination


Learn what Chemotherapy is
What Is
Learn what the procedure is. Find out how it is performed.
Reasons For Chemotherapy
Reasons For
Find out why and when this procedure should be done.
Chemotherapy Complications
Learn about possible complications and what might increase the risk of them.
Chemotherapy Details
What to Expect
Find out how long it will take, what they will be doing and what to expect afterwards.
Chemotherapy Results
What are the next steps and other possible tests needed after you have received the results.
When to Contact Doctor about Chemotherapy
Call Your Doctor
What to look out for and when to call your doctor after a procedure has been done.

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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO