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Peripheral Intravenous Chemotherapy


Peripheral intravenous (IV) chemotherapy (chemo) is a treatment used to shrink a tumor or kill cancer cells. An IV catheter is placed in your hand or arm. Your caregiver may need to insert a new IV before each dose of chemo. The IV may stay in your vein for a few days.



  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your oncologist as directed:

You may need to return every day, week, or once to twice a month for treatment. You may need to see your oncologist for ongoing tests and treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Home care:

You may be able to get chemo at home from a trained caregiver.

Chemotherapy safety:

  • Use caution with body fluids: Chemo medicine will be in your body fluids, including your blood, urine, bowel movements, and saliva. Do not let others touch any of your body fluids. The medicine can harm their skin and possibly other organs.
  • Wash your hands if you get chemo medicine on them: Chemo medicine can harm your skin and eyes. Ask what to do if the medicine gets on your skin or in your eyes.
  • Dispose of medicine and supplies properly: You may be given special containers to get rid of the excess medicine and the supplies at home after you are done using them.


  • Prevent illness: Stay away from people who are sick. Stay away from children who have recently been vaccinated for chicken pox or polio. Ask for more instructions about protecting yourself from illness or infection.
  • Drink liquids as directed: Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments.
  • Eat healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat smaller meals, and eat more often. Eat foods high in protein and calories, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Several small meals a day may be easier to eat than a few large meals.

Contact your oncologist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • 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 or diarrhea for more than 1 day.
  • You have a fever, swelling, or pain.
  • You are depressed.
  • 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 questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
  • You feel confused, have frequent headaches, or trouble seeing.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful.
  • You see blood in your urine or bowel movements.
  • You see swelling in the arm where you are received the chemo.
  • You cannot move the arm where you received the chemo.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.

Further information

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