What to Expect at the Chemotherapy Infusion Center
Your appointment in the CIC will include the lab tests and other processes we have described. That means that if you have an 8 a.m. appointment, the time it takes for lab test results and pharmacy preparation of the drug means that your chemotherapy may not begin until about 9 a.m. It is important that you are aware of this in the event you have to arrange for transportation or any other personal matter.
We want your appointment to go as safely and smoothly as possible and we want you to know what to expect so you can plan accordingly. As we strive to provide the best and latest cancer treatments, nothing is more important to us than your safety and your comfort. We welcome your suggestions as to how to make this experience more comfortable for you.
Receiving Your Chemotherapy Infusion
Chemotherapy infusion is usually done through an IV, where the drugs can be delivered directly into a vein – usually on the hand or lower arm. Please let the nurse know if you have any burning, redness or swelling at the IV site during your treatment. Depending on the type of cancer you have, the drugs you are receiving and the duration of your treatments, you may receive your chemotherapy through a catheter, port or pump:
Catheters are soft, thin tubes placed in a larger vein than those in your arm. The catheter remains in place between treatments avoiding the needle stick of starting a new IV. Blood (for testing) can also be removed through this catheter. Intrathecal catheters may be placed in your spinal canal to deliver drugs into the spinal fluid rather than the blood system. Intracavity catheters are placed directly into a cavity (hollow space) such as the chest, belly or pelvis for local delivery of the chemotherapy drugs and removed once therapy has been injected.
Ports are small, round discs placed under the skin to which a catheter can be attached during treatment sessions. Though you can feel it, if it is properly placed and kept clean, there should be no discomfort. A port is removed when chemotherapy is completed.
Pumps control how fast the drugs are delivered into your system. External pumps are portable so you can move about during treatment. Internal pumps can be surgically implanted under the skin and have a reservoir in which to place the chemotherapy agent which they will release on a timed basis.
Length of Treatment
Administration of chemotherapy in CIC can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours, depending on the treatment protocol, dose, and how it is administered. Those that require more than 10 hours are done in the In-patient section of Roswell or at home. Ask your doctor prior to your first treatment how long they expect it will take. For the remaining treatments, you can check with the CIC staff.
During Your Treatment
CIC has comfortable recliner chairs and individual rooms. The nurses will decide whether you can use the recliner or if you need a room. There are many factors involved, including how busy the schedule is, room availability and whether a person needs to be isolated from others such as those with a weakened immune system. Each recliner has a 13” color TV. Newspapers are also provided for patients.
- One visitor at a time is allowed to be with you in the clinic. Please note: to minimize disruption to the other people receiving chemotherapy and to prevent exposing patients with weak immune systems to infection, visitors must be over age 16.
- You may bring a snack with you or purchase something at the cafeteria to bring to the CIC. Please avoid foods that have a strong odor as they may cause nausea for the others receiving treatment.
- Dress warmly. The CIC may be cool, especially after having received IV fluids. Blankets are available.
Make a list of all the medications and doses you are currently taking and bring it with you to all of your appointments. If another doctor prescribes medication while you are receiving chemotherapy treatments, make sure he or she knows what chemotherapy you are receiving and when. Also, keep your doctor at Roswell informed of any drug you take – both prescription and over-the counter medications.
Some medications, including vitamins and herbal supplements may affect your chemotherapy. Please ask your physician what you may or may not take during your chemotherapy.