Most chemotherapy works by attacking cells as they are growing and dividing. Chemotherapy may be recommended to shrink your tumor before surgery, or it may be used to destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer after surgery.

Depending on the type of cancer you have and how it responds, you may be given more than one chemotherapeutic drug. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with radiation, surgery and/or other medical therapies, such as hormones. Your doctor may prescribe pills, or you may receive chemotherapy intravenously (IV) in our Oncology Infusion Center. At the center, our chemotherapy-certified nurses deliver expert care in a warm and supportive environment.

Receiving Chemotherapy

Most individuals receive chemotherapy as an outpatient service. You may get chemotherapy daily, weekly, monthly, or on a different schedule. Our experienced staff of board-certified medical oncologists works closely with referring physicians and the treatment team to provide each person with an individualized plan of care. We follow national, evidence-based guidelines for treatment and consult regularly with our colleagues at the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

We understand that for many patients, potential side effects are a big concern when considering chemotherapy. Your medical oncologist and nurse navigator will discuss with you what to expect and answer any questions you may have. Your treatment team will also help you learn how to manage any side effects at home, and when you should be seen in person.

Our Image Recovery Center, located on the upper level of the Cancer Institute, offers holistic services like massage and acupuncture to help with symptom management, as well as an array of products and salon treatments to make you feel better about your appearance during and after chemotherapy.

Shared Decision Making

We encourage shared decision making and give you the information and tools to take an active role in your care planning. If your doctor recommends chemotherapy for you, we will provide you with a written oncology care plan that explains in simple language your diagnosis, the goals of your treatment, your prognosis, and the logistical information you need to know in order to plan your life around chemotherapy treatments. We were one of the first hospitals to adopt a practice of financial transparency, and include an individualized price estimate up front, to help in decision-making.

Your doctor and nurse navigator will explain your options, answer your questions, and help you make the decisions that are right for you.

Infusion Therapy Protocols

Chemotherapy infusions for cancer treatment aren’t like the medications you get in the drugstore. Each dose of infusion therapy is specific to you and made just for you on the day you visit. Your doctor determines the appropriate drugs and doses based on your health status, blood work, and other factors. These may change from one visit to the next, so we cannot prepare your infusion in advance.

Our team of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists follow strict protocols when preparing, handling and administering your infusion therapy to ensure accuracy, sterility and safety with every single dose.

Please arrive on time for your appointment, as we cannot begin to prepare your infusion until after the nurse has assessed you. After that, it will take about 20–30 minutes to prepare your infusion. During that time, you can relax, read a book, enjoy a snack, watch television or access our free WiFi.

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