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Intravenous Chemotherapy

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about intravenous (IV) chemotherapy (chemo)?

IV chemo is medicine used to shrink a tumor or kill cancer cells. IV chemo is injected into your blood through an IV. Chemo can help cure cancer, prevent cancer from spreading, and relieve symptoms caused by cancer. You may be given 1 or more types of chemo. You may get chemo at home, in your healthcare provider's office, in a clinic, or in a hospital.

What will my chemo schedule be?

How often and how long you get chemo will depend on the type of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemo you need, side effects, and how well the chemo works. You may get chemo once a day, week, or month. Chemo is often given in cycles over a period of several months or more. This means that you will get the medicine for a period of time, and then you will have a break from it. This allows your body to grow new, healthy cells.

How will IV chemo be given to me?

What else do I need to know about chemo?

Chemo may leak from your vein and damage your blood vessels and skin. Chemo may damage your kidneys, liver, heart, or other organs. You may have an allergic reaction to chemo. This may become life-threatening. Your risk for infection and bleeding are increased during chemo treatment. You may have problems getting pregnant or getting your partner pregnant after you have chemo. You may need more than 1 cycle of chemo to treat your cancer.

What do I need to know about side effects of chemo?

Chemo can damage healthy cells in your digestive system, bone marrow, and mouth. Chemo may also attack your hair follicles. This attack or damage is what causes side effects. You may or may not have side effects from chemo. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to prevent certain side effects. Side effects may depend on the type of chemo that you are given. Common side effects of chemo include the following:

What other tests or treatments may I need?

Can I take my regular medicines or vitamins during chemo?

Show your healthcare provider a list of everything that you currently take. Ask him or her if it is safe for you to take your regular medicines, vitamins, or supplements during chemo. Some may prevent chemo from working correctly.

What can I do to care for myself during chemo?

Where can I find more information and support?

It may be difficult for you and your family to go through cancer and cancer treatments. Join a support group or talk with others who have gone through treatment.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor or oncologist?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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