A mother is joined by her young sons while she receives chemotherapy
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Methods of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy medications can be given intravenously (into a vein), by injection, either intramuscular (into the muscle) or subcutaneous (under the skin), or orally (by mouth). Which method you use will mostly depend on the type of cancer you have and the type of chemotherapy you are given.

By intravenous injection (IV)
Chemotherapy is commonly given by dripping medicine through a tube into a vein. This is called intravenous or IV injection. A pre-measured amount of the chemotherapy medication is given through the IV tubing. Medications to control nausea or vomiting can be given to you at the same time as the chemotherapy medications.
A needle is inserted into a vein and attached with tubing to a plastic bag holding the chemotherapy drugs. The needle is taken out at the end of each treatment.
For some patients who undergo several chemotherapy sessions, a catheter is inserted into one of the large veins and left in place until the last chemotherapy session is complete.
Some patients may have a metal or plastic device known as a "port" implanted under the skin. The IV tube is then connected to this port instead of having a needle inserted at each treatment session.
Having a catheter means you will not need to have a needle inserted for every chemotherapy session. Usually, having a catheter or port is not painful. You don't need to worry about the catheter coming out with a jerk or an average pull. You should be able to move around as normal. The catheter will be removed once treatment is completed.
An IV session can last from 15 minutes to 3 hours or longer, depending on the chemotherapy medication and the dose you are receiving. The treatment should not normally be painful. Tell your nurse or doctor if you feel burning or any other unusual sensation where the needle is inserted while receiving the IV injection. Let them know if you feel any discomfort.
You may receive an IV injection at the hospital, a clinic, or at home. You can read, watch TV, or listen to music while you sit in a comfortable chair.

By Injection
Chemotherapy can sometimes be injected into a muscle. Many people are able to return home, or go back to work, shortly after their injection.

By Mouth
Oral chemotherapy sometimes comes in the form of pills, capsules, or liquids that can be swallowed. You will be able to take this type of chemotherapy at home or at work. Even if you are taking your chemotherapy at home, you will be asked to see your doctor for regular visits. Your doctor will monitor your progress with regular visits.

Sometimes, you may need to take more than one medication. If you think that you may get confused about when to take your medications, ask your nurse or pharmacist to set up a reminder system for you.

Southlake Regional Health Centre
596 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario   L3Y 2P9
Tel: 905-895-4521   |   TTY: 905-952-3062
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