Chemotherapy drugs are medicines used to treat cancer. These drugs either kill or prevent the growth and division of cancer cells. Chemotherapy treatment may be given before or after surgery, or to boost radiotherapy. In advanced cancer, chemotherapy is used to stop and slow down the spread of cancer.
How you prepare
How you prepare for chemotherapy depends on which drugs you'll receive and how they'll be administered. Your doctor will give you specific instructions to prepare for your chemotherapy treatments. You may need to:
- Have a device surgically inserted before intravenous chemotherapy.
If you'll be receiving your chemotherapy intravenously — into a vein — your doctor may recommend a device, such as a catheter, port, or pump. The catheter or other device is surgically implanted into a large vein, usually in your chest. Chemotherapy drugs can be given through the device. These devices are not needed for every patient, however, they are recommended during a long course of therapy.
- Undergo tests and procedures to make sure your body is ready to receive chemotherapy.
Blood tests to check kidney and liver function and heart tests to check for heart health can determine whether your body is ready to begin chemotherapy. If there's a problem, your doctor may delay your treatment or select a different chemotherapy drug and dosage that's safer for you.
- See your dentist.
Your doctor may recommend that a dentist check your teeth for signs of infection. Treating existing infections may reduce the risk of complications during chemotherapy treatment, since some chemotherapy may reduce your body's ability to fight infections.
- Plan ahead for side effects.
Ask your doctor what side effects to expect during and after chemotherapy and make appropriate arrangements. For instance, if your chemotherapy treatment will cause infertility, you may wish to consider your options for preserving your sperm or eggs for future use. If your chemotherapy will cause hair loss, consider planning for a head covering.
- Make arrangements for help at home and at work.
Most chemotherapy treatments are given in daycare, which means most people are able to continue working and doing their usual activities during chemotherapy. Your doctor can tell you in general how much the chemotherapy will affect your usual activities, but it's difficult to predict exactly how you'll feel. Ask your doctor if you'll need time off work or help around the house after treatment. Ask your doctor for the details of your chemotherapy treatments so that you can make arrangements for work, children, pets, or other commitments.
- Prepare for your first treatment.
Ask your doctor or chemotherapy nurses how to prepare for chemotherapy. It may be helpful to arrive for your first chemotherapy treatment well-rested. You might wish to eat a light meal beforehand in case your chemotherapy medications cause nausea. Have a friend or family member drive you to your first treatment. Most people can drive themselves to and from chemotherapy sessions. But the first time you may find that the medications make you sleepy or cause other side effects that make driving difficult.
Dos in Chemotherapy
- Maintain a high standard of hygiene
- Avoid crowded places- Not that you should not be socializing while on chemotherapy, but know that you are not at the best of your health
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle that consists of:
- 7-8 hour sleep
- Make sure your diet includes all the required nutrients
- A diet rich in saturated fats is minimized or avoided.
- Avoid obesity. Keep your weight in the normal range
- Be physically active and regular exercise.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits (maybe avoided on certain chemotherapy)
- Look for antioxidants from natural sources
- Be aware of warning signs and symptoms
- Be ready and talk to the cancer care team for any adverse effect during ChemotherapyCommon side effects of chemotherapy drugs include:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Easy bruising
Many of these side effects can be prevented or treated. Most side effects subside after treatment ends
Long-lasting and late-developing side effects are:
- Chemotherapy drugs can also cause side effects that don't become evident until months or years after treatment. Late side-effects vary depending on the chemotherapy drug but can include:
- Damage to lung tissue
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
- Risk of a second cancer
Ask your doctor if you have a risk of any late side effects. Ask what signs and symptoms you should be alert for that may signal a problem
- It is important to do body cleaning every day (bath or sponge). Also, special care of the parts that are too sweaty like underarms, folds of the skin, and private areas is needed.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Eat fresh food.
- Use sanitizer before touching areas of your surgery.
- Nails should be trimmed.
- Take your regular medicine on time.
- Using gentle moisturizer to treat dry skin which can occur due to chemotherapy. It helps to avoid rashes and itchiness.
- Maintain good hydration- 2.5 to 3 liters/day fluids intake is very important.
- Stay active- surely you don’t have stamina and strength for a long jog, run, or gym, but be active to boost circulation and help your body to regain vigor.
- Go for Counseling if required and regular checkups after Chemotherapy
Don’ts in Chemotherapy
- Do not take a heavy meal before chemotherapy; possibly take light food and/or liquid.
- Do not use tobacco and Arecanut in any form.
- Avoid secondhand smoke exposure (Don’t sit in the vicinity of a person who is smoking.)
- Quit alcohol.
- Avoid spicy, fried, preserved, processed and junk food, salt-preserved food like pickles and very hot beverages (above 65® C)
- Avoid stress.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
- Avoid over-exposure to sunlight-use sunscreen.
- Avoid cold drinks.
- Avoid sharing your personnel items with family-like towels etc. This is because you can catch the infection if one or more family member is suffering from one.
- Always wash and peel the vegetables.
- Avoid eating stale food or foods that have been refrigerated for more than five hours.
- Avoid eating uncooked or raw vegetables- this precaution is required only for chemotherapy medications (which can be discussed with the treating doctor)
- Avoid eating uncooked meat as the presence of bacteria can make you sick.