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Chemotherapy| may also be given to people whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body or if the cancer has come back after radiotherapy|.
Chemotherapy is used in this situation to try to shrink and control the cancer and relieve symptoms, to prolong a good quality of life. In some people the chemotherapy will achieve this. Unfortunately for others the chemotherapy will not shrink the cancer and in this situation the treatment will be stopped to avoid the side effects| it may cause. It’s helpful to discuss the pros and cons of chemotherapy in your particular situation with your cancer specialist.
Chemotherapy drugs are usually given by an injection into a vein (intravenously), or occasionally by mouth (orally). You may be given a single drug or a combination of drugs. Your chemotherapy will usually be given to you as an outpatient, which means you can go home on the same day. Occasionally you may have your chemotherapy during a short stay in hospital.
Intravenous chemotherapy can be given through a small tube (cannula) in your arm, or occasionally through a soft plastic tube called a central line or PICC line. A central line is put into a vein in your chest under a general or local anaesthetic. A PICC line is put into a vein in the bend of your arm.
Position of a central line
View a large copy of the diagram showing the position of a central line|
Position of a PICC line
View a large copy of the diagram showing the position of a PICC line|
A cycle usually takes 3-4 weeks. On the first day of each cycle, you’ll usually be given chemotherapy by injection or infusion. Your doctor or nurse can tell you how many cycles of treatment are planned and explain exactly how you’ll be given your chemotherapy.
We have more information about having chemotherapy|, which you may find useful.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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