Where chemotherapy treatment is given
Usually chemotherapy is given in a chemotherapy day unit or an outpatient clinic. But depending on the type of chemotherapy, some people may need to have it during a stay in hospital.
Chemotherapy drugs into a vein (intravenous) are usually given to you by nurses in a chemotherapy day unit. They take blood samples, give you your chemotherapy and monitor you for side effects. They also provide information and support to you and your family.
The nurses try to make sure the unit has a calm atmosphere and the environment is comfortable. There are normally recliner chairs and some beds if you need more rest.
You can usually have a relative or friend to stay with you until you’re ready to go home. There may be volunteers who help with drinks or snacks when you need them. Some units also have complementary therapists who provide therapies like reflexology.
Having the chemotherapy drugs may take from half an hour to a few hours. But you may also have to wait for blood results, your chemotherapy drugs to be made up by the pharmacy, or to see your cancer doctor. The nurses will try to keep any waiting to a minimum.
You can take some things with you to help pass the time and feel more comfortable, such as:
a soft, cosy blanket or slippers
an MP3 player or personal stereo with relaxing music or relaxation techniques
a newspaper, some magazines, a book or an e-reader
some favourite snacks in case you get hungry
playing cards or some knitting.
After you’ve had your chemotherapy, the nurses may give you drugs to take at home or a prescription for the hospital pharmacy. This may include anti-sickness drugs, steroids or any chemotherapy tablets you need to take.
Chemotherapy in hospital
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Some chemotherapy treatments are more complex and this may mean you need to stay in hospital to have your treatment. Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse will explain more about this.
Sometimes, specialist chemotherapy nurses visit people at home to give intravenous
The nurses were always prepared to answer the phone 24 hours a day,
if you had cancer related side effects or symptoms that you didn’t understand or you couldn’t cope
with. They were really very helpful.
chemotherapy. This service is only available in some parts of the UK and only with certain chemotherapy treatments. Your cancer doctor can tell you more about this.
How to contact the hospital
You will be given telephone numbers to contact the hospital if you have a temperature, feel unwell or need advice on side effects. This should include ‘out-of-hours’ contact details for evenings, during the night or the weekend.
Some cancer centres have a 24-hour number you can call at any time for advice. It’s very important to keep the numbers somewhere safe (save them in your mobile phone for example), and to follow the contact advice you’ve been given by the chemotherapy nurse or cancer doctor.