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Intramuscular Chemotherapy


  • Intramuscular (in-trah-MUS-ku-lar) (IM) chemotherapy (kee-moh-THER-ah-pee) is one way to give chemotherapy. There are many ways to give chemotherapy (also called "chemo".) Depending on the kind of chemotherapy you need, your caregiver may decide that IM chemotherapy is the best way for you.
  • IM chemotherapy is given as an injection (shot). It is given deep into a muscle. You may get an IM shot in your arm, thigh, or buttock (rear end). You may feel a pinch when the needle is placed through the skin and into the muscle. After you get the shot, the needle will be removed. How long you will need to take your IM chemo will depend on the kind of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemotherapy medicine that is needed to treat you.



  • Always take your medicine as directed by your caregiver. You may be given many different types of medicine to help with the side effects. If you feel your medicine is not helping or you are having side effects, let your caregiver know.
  • Know how to protect yourself from getting an infection while getting chemo. You should stay away from people who are sick with a cold, the flu or sore throat. You should also stay away from small children who have recently been vaccinated (VAK-si-nay-ted) for chicken pox or polio. Stay out of crowds and crowded places. Your caregiver may give you more instructions about protecting yourself from infection.
  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about preventing nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting (throwing up).
  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about decreasing or taking away your pain.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, breads, dairy products, meat, and fish. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat smaller meals, more often. Eat foods high in protein and calories, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Always check with your caregiver before starting a new diet. Ask your caregiver for more information about eating and drinking while being treated for cancer.

When is my next medical appointment?

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


  • You have a fever.
  • The area where you get your IM shot is painful, red, or swollen.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or no appetite for several days.
  • You are very tired and have no energy for several days.
  • You notice sores or white spots in your mouth.
  • You have constipation (hard, BMs less often than usual) or diarrhea (loose stools) for more than one day.
  • You bruise easily, or have small, red spots under your skin.
  • You have any unusual bleeding.
  • You have any signs or symptoms of infection, such as a high temperature, swelling, or pain.
  • You feel very sad for several days.
  • You feel like your heart is beating very fast.
  • You have frequent, painful urination.
  • You have a cough that is new, or that does not go away.


  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
  • You feel confused, or have a severe headache that does not go away.
  • You have arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, or trouble seeing.
  • Your pain increases.
  • You see swelling, feel pain, or have a hot feeling in your arms or legs.
  • You see blood in your urine or BM's.
  • You feel dizzy or feel faint (like you are going to pass out).
  • You are bleeding and cannot get the bleeding to stop.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Intramuscular Chemotherapy (Aftercare Instructions)

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