Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to treat certain diseases, most commonly cancer. In IV chemotherapy, these drugs are administered into a patient’s veins through an IV, either as an injection or as a drip. The anti-cancer drugs slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, and are used to target many types of cancers in the body.
Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in cancer care. We offer a comprehensive oncology program, including advanced treatments like IV chemotherapy. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.
What Is IV Chemotherapy?
IV chemotherapy, also known as infusion chemotherapy, puts cancer-fighting drugs directly into your bloodstream through an intravenous line, so they travel throughout your body and reach any cancer cells. Depending on the type of cancer and goals of the chemotherapy, you may receive a variety of drugs and will have a personalized care plan that may involve multiple doses of chemotherapy over several weeks or months.
What Can IV Chemotherapy Accomplish?
IV chemotherapy can be used to achieve a variety of different goals as part of a broader approach to treating cancer. These include:
- Destroying cancer cells
- Slowing tumor growth or shrinking a tumor before using other treatments
- Relieving symptoms of advanced cancer
What Can I Expect During the Procedure?
Prior to the procedure, your care team will work with you to develop a personalized care plan. You may also undergo tests to make sure your body is healthy enough to undergo the chemotherapy, and may be asked to see your dentist to make sure you do not have any infections in your mouth.
In some cases, your physician may surgically implant a catheter, port or pump, usually into your chest, in order to administer the chemotherapy. If you have a catheter or port installed, you will be given care instructions to help reduce the risk of infections, blockages and clots.
IV chemotherapy may be done as an outpatient procedure, and in some cases may be done in the comfort of your own home. Administering a dose of chemotherapy may take anywhere from under half an hour to several hours depending on your treatment plan. You may be able to drive to and from the treatments, but should have someone drive you the first time because the drugs can cause drowsiness and fatigue.
Your physician will have determined how often you receive these treatments based on the drugs being given, the characteristics of your cancer and how well your body recovers after each treatment. Treatments are usually at least once per week, and may be continuous or alternate between periods of treatment and recovery.
You will meet with your physician regularly during treatment to discuss any side effects, and you may also undergo scans and other tests to see how the chemotherapy is affecting the cancer, which will also allow your physician to adjust your treatment as necessary.
Recovery between chemotherapy sessions will vary depending on the types of drugs used, your reaction to them, and your overall health. You may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, easy bruising, loss of appetite and hair loss following treatments, though these symptoms will gradually reside, and many can be prevented or treated.
IV Chemotherapy Possible Risks
Most side effects of chemotherapy subside after treatment ends. Other risks of chemotherapy vary depending on the drugs used, and can include:
- Increased risk of infection
- Damage to lung tissue
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
- Risk of a second cancer
Next Steps with MyChart
Discover MyChart, a free patient portal that combines your Baptist Health medical records into one location. Schedule appointments, review lab results, financials, and more! If you have questions, give us a call.