Chemotherapy Treatment

 

What is Chemotherapy and how does it work?

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment using drugs that are given intravenously through an injection or by mouth. These drugs destroy cancer cells by impeding their growth and reproduction. Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy alone or in conjunction with radiation therapy or surgery depending on what course your team decides is best.

The downside to chemotherapy is that its side effects can be unpleasant including nausea, vomiting, hair loss and mouth sores. Your doctor will use new and effective approaches to prevent or moderate these side effects to make treatment as painless as possible.  In addition to the standard chemotherapy protocols, your doctor continually revises chemotherapy protocols to reflect new and better treatment, including many clinical studies available as treatment options.
 

Chemotherapy at St. Mary’s

When you receive chemotherapy treatment at The Cancer Care Center, we understand that you are not just fighting against cancer—you are also fighting for the things that matter in life. That is why our staff provides you with more than just medicine. We offer you truly compassionate care that you will find only at St. Mary’s.
 

Learn more about every step of your treatment:

Treatment Planning
What to Expect During Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy FAQs
 

Treatment Planning

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Because we care about you as a person, not just a cancer patient, we want you to understand every step of your treatment process. Most patients are referred to us after specialists have completed tests that show if cancer is present and at what stage. At this point, your personalized treatment begins with a pre-treatment consultation with one of our medical oncologists. During the consultation, your medical oncologist will review your medical records, perform a complete physical exam, confirm your diagnosis and discuss treatment goals, strategies and options. Your treatment plan will vary according to your type of cancer, treatment goal, drugs used and how you personally respond to the treatment.

We encourage you to have a family member or significant other accompany you to this visit. There will be a lot of information discussed at the consultation, so it’s helpful to have a supportive friend there to help you process the information, ask questions and take notes.

What to Expect During Chemotherapy

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Because every patient is unique, our chemotherapy treatment protocols can vary widely. Your chemotherapy treatment is designed to fight your cancer by keeping your specific diagnosis, medical history and treatment goals in mind. As such, different patients experience chemotherapy in different ways. For more information about what generally what to expect during chemotherapy, visit our frequently asked questions below.

Chemotherapy FAQs

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Q. Will I lose my hair?
A. Some chemotherapy drugs do cause hair loss. Hair loss typically occurs within the first two weeks of treatment, and the hair grows back once treatment has ended. Please talk to your doctor about the side effects you might experience based on the specific drugs used in your treatment.

Q. Will I get nauseated? 
A. Some chemotherapy drugs will cause you to become nauseated. When receiving these drugs, normally you will be given anti-nausea medication before treatment begins.

Q. Is it safe to be around other people while receiving chemotherapy treatments?
A. In general, it is safe to be around people when you’re being treated with chemotherapy. However, the drugs used in chemotherapy are very strong in order to kill the cancer cells in your body. They are processed and removed from your body in about two days through your urine and stool. As a result, you should take special precautions in the 48 hours after each chemotherapy session so that people do not come in contact with your bodily fluids. Please talk to your doctor for more information.

Q. How long will my treatment session last?
A. Each treatment plan is unique including the length of time of each chemotherapy session.

Q. Do I have to come every day?
A. This depends upon your specific treatment plan. You may receive chemotherapy daily, weekly or even just once a month. Usually chemotherapy is given in cycles with periods of rest between periods of treatment to allow your body to rest and heal between cycles.

Q. How tired will I be?
A. Fatigue is a common side effect of chemotherapy medication, but most people are able to continue with their daily activities.

Q. What are some of the common side effects to chemotherapy?
A. Most people experience fatigue while undergoing chemotherapy. Depending on the medicine used, some people lose their hair and experience nausea. You may also have an increased risk of catching infections.

Q. Can I drive myself?
A. Most patients are able to drive themselves to treatment, but check with your physician to make sure it is safe for your particular case.

Q. Can I bring someone along with me for support?
A Yes, we encourage this.

Q. Does chemotherapy hurt?
A. Besides the initial discomfort of the needle stick for an IV or injection, a chemotherapy session is not painful.

Q. Will I have to wait long before getting an appointment to see the doctor?
A. No. Most new patients are able to schedule an appointment within one week of calling.