Here is a brief description of what happens during the administration of chemotherapy, to help you prepare for your treatment.
The goals of chemotherapy are to:
- eliminate the tumour
- shrink the tumour
- prevent cancer from spreading
- relieve symptoms from cancer, such as pain.
Chemotherapy can be administered:
- intravenously (IV)
- by pill
- through injection
- through an intravenous (IV) infusion pump
If you are going to be given chemotherapy intravenously, you will be given an appointment date and time, to be confirmed closer to the time. A registered nurse will administer the chemotherapy . The nurse will also review your treatment plan and the potential side effects.
Treatment can take several minutes, to several hours, up to a full day, depending on the protocol.
Some patients go home with a continuous chemotherapy IV infusion pump.
If your therapy is to be given in the form of pills, you will be given an appointment to meet the pharmacist who will give you your prescription, review the side effects of the chemotherapy pills, and reinforce who and when to call for medical advice.
In many circumstances, it is important you do not get pregnant while you are getting cancer treatment. Cancer treatments, like radiation, chemotherapy, or other systemic therapy can damage your eggs, an embryo (very early part of pregnancy) or a fetus (unborn baby).
If you are having treatment and able to impregnate your partner, it is important they do not become pregnant as cancer treatments can damage sperm and impact a fetus and health of the child-bearing person.
If you get pregnant during cancer treatment, you may have a miscarriage (fetus or embryo dies) or the baby may have birth defects (the baby's brain or body may be affected).
If you get pregnant, this may impact the types of tests and treatments available for your cancer. Some tests and treatments can harm an unborn baby or embryo.
Also, we do not know how some newer cancer treatments affect unborn babies. These treatments may harm an unborn baby.
What could happen if I get pregnant during treatment?
No. It is very important to talk with your health care provider about impact of your specific treatment and if you have any questions or concerns.
If you are a person that is able to get pregnant, your doctor may order a blood test before you start treatment if you think it's possible you could be pregnant. This blood test will check to see if you are pregnant.
If you think that you could be pregnant any time during your treatment, please tell your health care team right away. They will ask you to do a blood or urine pregnancy test.
You can find more information below on some studies that show the risks of pregnancy during cancer treatment: