Chemotherapy Treatment in Alabama
Chemotherapy is different than other types of treatment such as radiation or surgery which are considered local treatments. Chemotherapy is used to treat the whole body and is therefore called a systemic treatment. There are over 100 types of chemotherapy drugs currently on the market, but with ongoing clinical trials newer more effective drugs that target specific cancers will soon be available. Chemotherapy is used to cure cancer, control it, or as palliative care (relieve symptoms.) It can either be given by itself or as adjuvant therapy when it is combined with other treatment options.
Tips for chemotherapy treatment:
- When you are receiving chemotherapy treatments, drink at least 8–12 eight-ounce glasses of fluids the day prior to treatment, the day of treatment, and the day after treatment.
- Dress in layers such as sweaters or jackets which may be removed if you become warm or put on if you become cold.
- If you are cold, ask a volunteer for a blanket from our blanket warmer.
- Wear front button shirts if you have a central venous catheter (port) which needs to be used for your treatment.
- Bring only one family member (13 years of age or older) or friend during your treatment.
- Please avoid bringing foods with strong odors into the infusion area.
- Please avoid wearing strong smelling perfumes/lotions so as to be considerate to other patients’ sensitivities.
Side Effects from Chemotherapy Treatment
Chemotherapy involves a wide variety of options as to what type of drugs are used, how they are administered, and how often. All of these factors contribute to the side effects as well as a variation in every patient, as everyone experiences side effects and treatments in their unique way. Below are some common side effects of chemotherapy:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Easy bruising
Many of these can either be prevented, treated, or will subside after treatment ends. Unfortunately, chemotherapy may cause some long-lasting side effects even after the course of treatment is completed. These side effects are listed below:
- Damage to lung tissue
- Heart problems
- Kidney issues
- Nerve damage
- Risk of another cancer
How Chemotherapy is Administered
There are many different ways chemotherapy drugs can be administered, which depends on what kind of chemotherapy treatment is pursued. These different ways include:
- Chemotherapy infusions. This is the most common way chemotherapy is given, through infusions into a vein.
- Chemotherapy pills. Some chemotherapy drugs may be taken in pill or capsule form.
- Chemotherapy shots. Just as someone would receive a shot, chemotherapy drugs can also be injected with a needle.
- Chemotherapy creams. Creams or gels, containing chemotherapy drugs can be applied to the skin to treat some forms of skin cancer.
- Chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer. Chemotherapy can be targeted directly to cancer, for example, a disc-shaped wafer containing chemotherapy drugs can be placed near a tumor during surgery, or drugs may also be injected directly through a vein that supplies a tumor.
You will meet with your doctor here regularly during chemotherapy treatment. Your follow-up appointments may cover what side effects you may be experiencing since most of them can be treated. Depending on your situation, you may undergo testing and scans to monitor your cancer during your course of chemotherapy treatment.