Having Chemotherapy Treatment

Preparing for your appointments

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Chemotherapy education visit

You may attend a separate chemotherapy education session with a nurse before your treatment starts. At this session the nurse will cover the type of chemotherapy regimen you will receive, including the drugs and their potential side effects, how long it takes to deliver, how many cycles you will have and more.

You will have received a Patient Information Folder on your first clinic visit.  The folder includes information about your treatment and is useful to bring along to each appointment.  If you have not received a folder, ask the nurse for one at this appointment.

We are always happy to explain what the treatment involves and answer any questions you have at any stage of your treatment.

We can also refer you to a number of support services to help you throughout your treatment.

Arriving for treatment

It's a good idea to allow plenty of time, especially if you have travelled by car, as parking near the hospital can be difficult. See our Location tab for further information about parking.

On your arrival please let the receptionist on the ground floor of the Oncology Department know that you are here. The receptionist will ask you to take a seat in the waiting area. 

When the nursing team are ready to treat you a member of the team will locate you and escort you to the Oncology Day Ward where your treatment will begin.

It is normal to feel nervous or apprehensive about your first day of treatment but most people find the treatment a lot easier than they imagined. However if you do feel anxious the team will be more than willing to discuss any concerns you have.

Usually treatment is given Monday to Friday but some patients will be asked to attend on weekends or public holidays.

Before the treatment begins

The nurse will begin by introducing themselves and answering any questions you may have. If you are returning for treatment they will want to know what side effects you have had between your last treatment and the current one.

Your arm will be warmed with a heat bag or in a sink of water. This plumps up your veins for the cannula (small plastic tube) to be inserted. The cannula is used to deliver the drugs directly into your vein. A small number of people may have a central venous access device (CVAD) in place. This is a longer term option and stays in place 24 hours a day for the duration of your treatment period. It is a necessity for some of the chemotherapy drugs we administer.

Once your cannula is placed the nurse will check the patency of it by flushing intravenous fluids through it and checking for blood return from the cannula (or CVAD).
Two nurses will undertake a thorough check of all the drugs you are to receive and will then check your identity. Please don't be upset if we check your identity repeatedly. It may be done several times on each visit by asking for your full name and birth date. This is necessary to maintain your safety and ensure you are receiving the drugs that are meant for you.

Who gives the treatment?

There are a number of nurses working in this team who have all received additional training to handle and administer chemotherapy drugs. You may have different nurses on each occasion you come for treatment.

Between each treatment visit

Between each cycle of chemotherapy you will receive an appointment to be seen in an outpatient clinic. In these clinics you will be reviewed for any side effects of the treatment by a member of your treatment team which may be either a doctor or nurse. Staff will let you know if a blood test is required before this appointment.

When you have completed treatment

When chemotherapy has finished you will have an outpatient clinic visit to discuss your future follow up requirements. For some people follow up with the Oncology Department will continue but for others you may be discharged from our care back to your surgeon or GP for continued care. You should receive the sheet 'Finishing your chemotherapy treatment' at this clinic visit or from the nurse on your final chemotherapy visit.​

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Page last reviewed: 08 April 2015
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