Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with medicines that cause damage to cancer cells, leading to cell death.
Today, many methods of chemotherapy delivery and chemotherapy medicines are used in cancer treatment. Specific chemotherapy regimens, or treatment programs, are set up individually, depending on the type and stage of cancer being treated. Cancer treatment regimens are based on cancer research and specialized training and experience of our physicians and staff.
A chemotherapy regimen includes one or more chemotherapy drugs, and specifies how often and how many treatments are given. For regimens that may cause nausea, a schedule of medicines to prevent nausea is included.
Most chemotherapy is given intravenously and may take an hour to several hours. Chemotherapy is usually given in the office and hospitalization is not necessary. At HOPE, we have a beautiful chemotherapy room designed to offer sophisticated medical care and decorated to enhance comfort and healing. The chemotherapy room nurses are experts at starting I.V.s, giving chemotherapy, and monitoring you throughout your treatment.
Before you start chemotherapy, you should be sure you understand what medicines you will be taking and what the side effects are. We will schedule an education visit with a chemotherapy nurse and the counselor at Hope before you begin your chemotherapy treatment. These educational visits are designed to help you maximize your chances for recovery and survival.
Methods of Chemotherapy Delivery
- Implanted Venous Catheter (I.V.) - Most chemotherapy is given intravenously, which means using a needle to access your vein. Access to a good vein in the arm is important for chemotherapy. In circumstances when veins in the arm are too weak or small for a regular I.V. to be used, a semi-permanent implanted catheter (tube) may be placed in a larger vein elsewhere on your body. Three kinds of catheters are available. Each kind has unique features; however, all catheters should be periodically flushed (rinsed out with a syringe) with a weak concentration of Heparin, a blood thinner used to keep blood from clogging the catheter.
- Implanted Port - The implanted port has a catheter placed in the subclavian vein in the chest near the collarbone, and is attached to a small round device called the port. This is done in a short surgical procedure. The catheter and port are both under the skin on the upper chest. An I.V. is started by cleaning the skin and placing a needle through skin and into the port. When there is no need for I.V. access, the needle can be removed and no special care is needed for the area.
- PICC - The PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) is placed in a vein on the inside of the arm, near the bend of the arm; in a similar way that an I.V. needle is placed. This may be done in your hospital room, at an outpatient clinic, or in the x-ray department of a hospital. Inside the arm, the catheter extends up the vein into one of the larger veins in the chest. Attaching I.V. tubing to the end of the PICC starts an I.V. The PICC needs dressing changes and flushing once a week.