Some operations for cancer will mean the person you care for needs to stay in hospital for a short time. Sometimes, depending on the situation, the stay may be longer.
There may be a period of time after the surgery when they are recovering and need more support. You may want to:
- visit them in the hospital – this can be very tiring if you’re working too
- take time off work to care for them in the days and weeks when they first come home.
During this time, it’s important to give yourself time to rest.
Radiotherapy treats cancer using high-energy x-rays.
It’s usually given in the following way:
- as an outpatient treatment (where the person does not need to stay in hospital overnight)
- at a specialist unit
- on a daily basis, from Monday–Friday, over a few weeks.
You may be planning to go with the person you are caring for when they have their treatment. Although each treatment takes only a few minutes, the travel time might add considerably to the amount of time you need away from work.
Anti-cancer drugs (including chemotherapy)
There are different types of anti-cancer drug. There are three main groups: chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies and hormonal treatments.
Chemotherapy drugs are usually given in a chemotherapy unit in the hospital over several months.
Targeted therapies are a newer group of treatments that work by targeting the growth of cancer cells. They are also given in a chemotherapy unit in the hospital over several months.
Hormonal therapies are drugs that can stop or slow the growth of cancer cells by either changing the level of particular hormones in the body, or preventing the hormones affecting the cancer cells.
Treatment with anti-cancer drugs is usually given every two or three weeks at scheduled times.
Each session will usually involve an afternoon or a full day in the chemotherapy unit at the hospital. But sometimes, it may involve a stay overnight or for a few days. This will depend on the type of cancer being treated and the anti-cancer drugs used.
Chemotherapy and targeted therapies are usually given regularly. But sometimes there are delays in treatment, for example if a person needs longer to recover from the side effects of treatment. It can help to explain this to your key contact at work and try to plan for the unexpected, wherever possible.
Most hormonal therapies are given as tablets, but some are given as injections every few weeks or months.