Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment using drugs to destroy cancer cells by impeding their growth and reproduction. Chemotherapy may consist of single drugs or combinations of drugs administered through a vein, injected into a body cavity, or taken by mouth in the form of a pill. Chemotherapy drugs circulate in the blood throughout the body to places where the cancer may have spread.
More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer receive some form of chemotherapy. For people who have cancers that respond well to chemotherapy, this approach helps treat their cancer effectively and they are able to lead full, productive lives. New medications are available to treat many of the side effects once associated with chemotherapy allowing many people to work, travel, and engage in many of their normal activities while receiving treatment.
Infusion Suite at Mountainview
Your chemotherapy drugs will be administered in our Infusion Suite, which is located within the Mountainview Medical offices. You can receive your infusion in private or semi-private areas, depending on their preference on a particular day.
Types of Chemotherapy Drugs
There are over 100 different types of drugs in use today for chemotherapy. Your medical oncologist will chose drugs that are specifically designed to combat your particular type and stage of cancer. Your oncology nurse will provide you with a drug information sheet that provides you with details about the drugs being used to treat your particular cancer.
How Is Chemotherapy Given?
The dose and method through which chemotherapy drugs are administered is based on very strict protocols established during the clinical trials/testing phase of each drug. Depending on how different chemotherapy drugs are absorbed by the body and how they work, they can be administered using one or a combination of the following methods:
- Orally (by mouth). Drugs that can be absorbed under the tongue through the stomach lining and are not destroyed by the acid in the stomach may be given orally, through pills, tablets, capsules or liquid.
- Injection. This less common method uses a short needle for subcutaneous injections (into the space between the skin and muscle) or a longer need for Intra-muscular injections (through the skin into the muscle layer).
- Intravenously (IV). The most common method for administering chemotherapy drugs is through a catheter that is inserted by needle into a vein in your forearm, hand, or a surgically place IV port. IV infusions can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, although continuous infusions can last from 1 to 7 days.
- Infusion ports. A port is a small disc (the size of a quarter) that is made of plastic or metal and is surgically inserted just under the skin. The port has a catheter (a thin flexible tube) that the surgeon inserts into a vein. A port minimizes the discomfort of repeated blood draws and chemotherapy drug infusions by allowing both procedures to be done through this single port device. The oncology nurse uses a special type of needle to access the port.
A port is always used for any patient with poor veins or if the chemotherapy regimen requires the use of a port (when chemo is administered continuously for several days). Other patients may opt to use a port because, in general, it just makes receiving chemo easier for the patient. Talk to your oncology nurse or doctor to find out if a port is right for you.
The surgical placement of an infusion port is done as an outpatient procedure by one of CVMC’s general surgeons.
For more information about Chemotherapy, go to:
American Cancer Society’s “Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families”