An Overview Of Taking Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

If your doctor suspects you have breast cancer, or you've just been diagnosed, you may be referred to a breast cancer treatment clinic to begin treatment. These clinics are usually associated with hospitals, and they are capable of providing a number of breast cancer treatment services. One treatment you may need is chemotherapy. Here's what you might expect when you undergo this type of breast cancer treatment.

There Are Different Ways To Take Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy might be given by IV or pill. You might take the treatments while you're in the hospital, at home, or in a breast cancer clinic. The type of chemotherapy you need is determined by the type of cancer you have since there is no one single treatment for all types of cancer.

Chemotherapy By IV Is Usually Done In A Clinic

If you take your chemotherapy in pill form, you might take it at home for your convenience. If you need an IV to take your chemotherapy drugs, you'll probably need to go to a breast cancer outpatient clinic instead. The visit could take several hours or just a short time. You may need to have a doctor's visit and blood work done before receiving the IV, and that can add to the time you spend at the clinic.

Since you could be at the clinic for a long time, it's a good idea to take a book or something else to do along with you. You'll rest comfortably in a recliner while you get your IV, and you'll probably have access to a TV and internet connection.

If you need high-dose chemotherapy, you might need to stay in the hospital for your treatments since your immune system may be affected and leave you at risk for an infection.

Your Care Plan Is Customized For You

Some chemotherapy protocols are specific to the type of drug you take. You may need the drug for a certain number of days, and then you'll take a break for several days before resuming treatments. However, your doctor considers the stage of your cancer and how you react to treatments when creating your care plan.

You may be given additional drugs to help you cope with side effects, and you might be instructed to take these drugs before you come to the clinic so they are effective once your chemotherapy begins. It's important to communicate with your doctor so you can remain as comfortable as possible while you're undergoing chemotherapy.

Side Effects Are Common

Side effects are common with chemotherapy. You may lose your hair and suffer from nausea and weakness. While you're getting the drugs, you might feel chilled and uncomfortable. You may lose your appetite and start losing weight. Dealing with the side effects is just as important as getting your chemotherapy medication.

Your nurse and doctor can offer suggestions for things you can do at home and during your treatment sessions to manage unpleasant side effects. Some clinics may even offer complimentary breast cancer treatment services such as cold caps that cool your scalp to try to prevent hair loss.