How is Chemotherapy Given?

Chemotherapy drugs can be given in different ways. The method of administering the Chemotherapy drug depends on the type of cancer diagnosed and the effectiveness of the drug. Common methods include:

  • Intravenous (IV) Into a vein
  • Oral (PO)- By mouth
  • Intramuscular (IM) injection Into a muscle
  • Subcutaneous (SC) injection Under the skin
  • Intrathecal Therapy(I.Th) Within the spinal canal
  • Intraventricular (I.Ven) Into the brain

Oral Chemotherapy

It is also called PO “per os” meaning “orally” or “by mouth”. The drug may be taken as a tablet, capsule, with water or juice and is absorbed into the blood through the mucosa of the mouth, stomach, and intestine. The medication travels through the bloodstream and is transported to organs that further process. Not every drug can get through the digestive tract to the blood; therefore, other routes of administration may be required.

Intravenous Chemotherapy

IV “intravenous” means “into the vein”. A syringe or central venous catheter is used to deliver the drug directly into a vein. It is the only possible route of administering certain chemo drugs because of its chemical composition. Drugs administered intravenously can also be expected to have a more rapid effect. Intravenous administration may be done either as a rapid injection called “bolus” or as an infusion for a short or long duration.

Subcutaneous Chemotherapy

Subcutaneous means “under the skin”. A thin cannula or needle is used to inject the Chemotherapy drug, just below the skin.

Intramuscular Chemotherapy

Intramuscular means “into the muscle”. In this process of administering chemo, the drug is inserted into the muscles, using is a fine needle.

Intrathecal Chemotherapy

Intrathecal means “into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)”. With the help of a lumbar puncture, the Chemotherapy drug is injected into the CSF to reach the central nervous system (CNS).

Intraventricular Chemotherapy

Intraventricular means “into the ventricle” of the brain. The Chemotherapy medication is delivered into one of the ventricles in the brain from where it distributes into the central nervous system (CNS).