10 Things You Need To Know About Chemotherapy

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 12 May 2022

10 Things You Need To Know About Chemotherapy

If your doctor tells you that you need chemotherapy, you might have preconceived ideas about what it entails. You could imagine yourself in the hospital for days on end, hooked up to an IV drip, like a lot of people. Chemotherapy can be administered in a variety of forms, including tablets and even skin creams. Furthermore, not everyone experiences the same side effects.

You'll be better prepared for what's ahead if you know these interesting chemotherapy facts.

1. Chemotherapy Locations

You may not need to stay overnight in the hospital. Chemotherapy isn't just done in hospitals. You can also receive care at home, in your doctor's office, at a clinic, or in a hospital's outpatient wing if you don't need to stay overnight.

The location of your treatment, the type of chemotherapy you receive, and how frequently you receive it are all determined by a variety of factors, including:

  • The form of cancer you have and how far it has progressed
  • Whether or not you've had chemo in the past
  • Some health conditions include diabetes or heart disease
  • Your preferences and goals

2. Chemotherapy Forms

It's possible that you won't need to get chemotherapy via an IV. One of the following approaches may be suggested by your doctor:

  • Injections to the arm, thigh, hip, knee, or stomach
  • An infusion port – a tube that is implanted under the skin and attaches to a vein.
  • A lotion or gel that you apply to your skin.
  • Oral pills, tablets, or liquids

3. Other Uses Of Chemotherapy

Although chemotherapy kills cancer cells, you may think that the aim is always to get rid of a tumour. However, chemotherapy is sometimes used by doctors for other purposes, such as:

  • After you've had surgery to remove a tumour, destroy residual cancer cells in your body.
  • Reduce the size of a tumour before undergoing further procedures such as surgery or radiation therapy.
  • To help ease certain cancer symptoms when there is no cure. This helps to keep the patient comfortable and reduce pain.

4. Work and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy isn't always as frightening as you would think. Some people are able to function while undergoing treatment. It's best to have a flexible schedule because you won't know how you'll feel before you start. On days when you don't feel well, working part-time or from home will help you stay on top of your work without being too tired.

5. Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cause a variety of side effects, ranging from fatigue and constipation to hair loss, nausea, and mood swings. However, not everyone has the same experience. Some people experience little to no side effects at all.

The ones you get are partially determined by the medications you take. However, it's difficult to say before you begin treatment. Discuss your options with your doctor.

6. Late Side Effects

Chemotherapy may have a number of long-term and late-developing side effects, including:

  • Lung, heart, and kidney problems
  • Infertility
  • Nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy
  • A higher chance of developing a second cancer

7. Diet and Chemotherapy

If you eat the right foods in the right amounts, you'll be able to remain energized during chemo. It will also help you to feel less sick.

Try these dietary suggestions:

  • When you have the opportunity, eat a lot of protein and calories. Since your appetite is at its peak in the morning, it's a good time to eat a larger meal at this time of day.
  • If solid foods aren't tempting, consider liquid meal substitutes, such as juice, soup, or milk, for extra calories.
  • Yogurt, milkshakes, and ice pops are examples of light, cold, or frozen foods.
  • Instead of three big meals a day, eat five or six small ones. This will keep you from feeling bloated.

8. Other Diseases and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy medications are often used to treat other diseases because they are effective at killing fast-dividing cells.

Chemotherapy can be used for a number of different reasons, including:

  • If you have a bone marrow condition, to prepare for a bone marrow stem cell transplant.
  • In diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, to treat an overactive immune system, which is the body's protection against pathogens.

9. Checklist Before Starting Chemotherapy

Many types of chemotherapy destroy cells in the immune system in addition to cancer cells. This increases the risk of contracting an infection while undergoing treatment. To minimise this issue, you should:

  • Before starting chemo, make sure you've had all of your vaccinations, including the flu shot.
  • Make an appointment with your dentist to ensure that you don't have any infections in your mouth that might lead to an infection during treatment.
  • When you're on chemotherapy, wash your hands often and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  • Keep a safe distance from sick people and pets. During chemotherapy, even a minor cold can worsen your condition and make you very unwell.

10. Other Medications and Chemotherapy

Vitamins are probably thought of as a healthy way to improve your health, and this is valid in some cases. However, high doses of certain vitamins, such as vitamins A, C, and E, can cause side effects during chemotherapy. According to some research, they interfere with how some medications function.

Consult your doctor about which vitamins, as well as any other over-the-counter medications or supplements, that are safe to take during care.

Sources

Referenced on  27/4/2021

  1. National Cancer Institute: “Chemotherapy and You."
  2. American Cancer Society: “Getting Chemotherapy,"
  3. American Cancer Society. (2020). Chemotherapy side effects.
    cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/chemotherapy-side-effects.html
  4. Breglio AM, et al. (2017). Cisplatin is retained in the cochlea indefinitely following chemotherapy.
  5. Chemotherapy. (2018).
    kidshealth.org/en/parents/chemotherapy.html
  6. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Chemotherapy.
    mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chemotherapy/about/pac-20385033
  7. Questions to ask about chemotherapy. (2019).
    cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/questions-to-ask-about-chemotherapy.html
  8. Chemotherapy: Risks and side effects. (n.d.).
    marshfieldclinic.org/specialties/cancer-care/cancer-chemotherapy-side-effects
  9. Chemotherapy side effects. (2016).
    cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/chemotherapy-side-effects.html
  10. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/chemo-did-not-know

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