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Chemotherapy: What To Do While In Treatment

Tips To Make The Process Of Getting Chemotherapy Easier

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In General

  • It generally takes at least several hours for a chemotherapy treatment ("infusion"). 
  • Most treatment centers have television available. Many centers have individual televisions for each patient.
  • Consider taking something with you to keep yourself occupied. For instance, a book, music player or a hobby such as knitting.
  • Treatment centers may be cold. In case the center doesn't have enough blankets, take a blanket or throw with you for at least the first session.
  • Also consider taking a thermos of liquid and snacks in case you get hungry. 
  • If possible, bring someone to keep you company and to help with driving home in case you don't feel well.

If the lymph nodes in your underarm have been removed

  • Make sure the IV is not inserted on the side where the nodes have been removed to avoid causing swelling and possible infection.
  • Avoid having blood drawn or blood pressure taken on that side.

Permanent Access

Chemotherapy involves inserting a needle into a vein for every treatment. Instead of individual sticks, you can choose a more permanent access, such as a Hickman line or portocath.  

  • The Hickman line is a thin silicone tube inserted into a large vein, that exits through the chest wall.   
  • The portocath (also known as a "port")is completely inserted under the skin and so requires minimal care.
  • Both a port and catheter:
    • Are inserted under the skin during a minor outpatient surgical procedure. 
    • Can be left in for months or even years. 
    • Are removed after the end of treatment.
  • While a port or catheter is implanted, precautions to avoid infection are necessary. Follow the guidelines the doctor gives you carefully.

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