Chemotherapy is commonly administered as an infusion or injection. Chemotherapy medicines are injected into your body using a tiny tube called a catheter, which is inserted into a vein, artery, bodily cavity, or body portion. A chemo medication may be administered fast using a syringe in some situations. You’ll learn about the many forms of injectable chemo in this section.
The following information pertains to classic or normal chemotherapy. Other medicines, such as targeted treatment, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy, are also used to treat cancer in various ways.
Intravenous chemo, often known as IV chemo, is injected directly into your circulation using a catheter, a small, flexible plastic tube. The catheter is inserted into a vein in your forearm or hand using a needle, which is then removed, leaving the catheter behind.
Intravenous medicines are administered in the following ways:
IV push: The medicines can be pushed into the catheter fast from a syringe over the course of a few minutes.
IV infusion: An IV infusion might last anything from a few minutes to many hours. A mixed medication solution is pumped through tubing connected to the catheter from a plastic bag. A mechanism called an IV pump is generally used to regulate the flow.
Continuous infusions: It might last anywhere from a day to many days.
What if my veins aren’t in decent shape?
With continued treatment, the needles and catheters can scar and damage veins.
- A central venous catheter is one alternative that may be provided to patients who require chemo for a lengthy period of time (CVC).
- A larger catheter, known as a CVC, is inserted into a major vein in the chest or arm. It stays in for the duration of your therapy, so you won’t have to be poked with a needle every time. CVCs come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- A small surgical procedure is required to implant the CVC. This is sometimes done in a clinic or hospital room, and other times it is done in an operating room.
Many patients discuss CVC therapy choices with their doctors before beginning treatment. Some people discover they require a CVC during therapy because finding a suitable vein in their hand or arm to utilize for infusions or injections becomes increasingly difficult over time. Your medical team can assist you in determining whether or not you require a CVC and which type is best for you.
Other methods of administering chemotherapy infusions or injections
Chemotherapy administered intrathecal (IT)
Intrathecal or IT chemo is injected into the spinal canal through a catheter and then into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Because most chemo medicines administered by IV or mouth cannot pass across the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from numerous poisons, this method of administering chemo may be required for some types of malignancies that damage the brain.
IT chemo can be administered to the CSF by a needle inserted into the spinal canal or a long-term catheter and port inserted beneath the skin on your head after surgery. Ommaya reservoir is the name for this type of port. The Ommaya is a tiny drum-like instrument with a tube connected. The tube is inserted into the CSF in one of your brain’s cavities. The Ommaya remains beneath your scalp till the therapy is completed.
Chemotherapy delivered intra-arterially
The chemo medication is injected directly into the major artery that feeds blood to the tumor in intra-arterial therapy. It might be utilized to treat a specific region (such as the liver, an arm, or leg).
This approach allows the therapy to be more focused on a single location while also limiting the drug’s impact on other sections of the body.
Chemotherapy in the intravitreal cavity
Chemotherapy medicines can be administered by a catheter into a closed region of the body, such as the bladder (intravesicular or intravesical chemo), the abdomen or belly (intraperitoneal chemo), or the chest (chest chemo) (called intrapleural chemo).
Chemotherapy administered intramuscularly (IM)
A needle linked to a syringe is used to inject the medication into a muscle (as an injection or shot).
Chemotherapy administered intralesionally
The medication is injected directly into the tumour using a needle. Only when the tumour can be securely accessed with a needle is it possible.
Chemotherapy administered intravenously
Chemo is injected directly into the bladder using a delicate catheter. It remains in place for a few hours before being emptied and the catheter removed.
What is the procedure for receiving a chemotherapy infusion or injection?
Which chemotherapy (chemo) medicines you get, the drug dosages, your hospital’s policies, your insurance coverage, what you want, and what your doctor advises all influence where you get your chemo infusion or injection.
Chemotherapy is an option:
- In your own house
- In the waiting room of your doctor’s office
- In a medical facility
- In the outpatient department of a hospital,
Some facilities feature private treatment rooms, while others serve a large number of patients in a single big area. Inquire about this with your doctor or nurse ahead of time so you know what to expect on your first day.
How often will I require chemotherapy and for how long?
The type of cancer you have, the treatment goals, the medicines used, and how your body responds to them all influence how often you get chemo and how long your therapy lasts.
Treatments might be administered on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but they’re generally given in cycles. This implies, for example, that you may receive chemo for the first two weeks and then have a week off, resulting in a three-week cycle.
If your cancer returns, you may need further treatment. You may be given different medications at this period to alleviate symptoms or limit cancer’s development or spread. Depending on the medications, the dosages, and how they’re administered, side effects may vary.
What should I eat in the days leading up to my first chemo treatment?
Chemotherapy sessions might last anything from a few minutes to many hours. Unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise, make sure you eat something before treatment. The majority of the time, a small breakfast or snack an hour or so prior to chemo works well. If you’ll be receiving treatment for several hours, talk to your doctor about what you can eat while you’re there. In some bigger treatment centers, you may be able to order lunch, or you may need to prepare ahead and carry a modest meal or snacks in an insulated bag or cooler. Check to see if there is a refrigerator or microwave available. Foods that can be taken into the treatment facility may be restricted, so check with your cancer care team beforehand.