Chemotherapy is a drug, or a combination of drugs, most commonly given intravenously (which means into a vein via a needle). However, there are some chemotherapy agents that are tablets/pills (which are taken by mouth), intramuscular (injected into a muscle via a needle), or subcutaneous (under the skin via a needle). Some form of skin cancers can be treated with chemotherapy cream.

Whatever form your chemotherapy takes, it will be the most effective method to treat your cancer. All chemotherapy agents travel through the bloodstream to reach the cancer cells.

How does Chemotherapy work?

Chemotherapy acts on fast dividing cells, like cancer cells. However, it is unable to differentiate between ‘healthy’ fast dividing cells and cancer fast dividing cell. So this means that ‘healthy’ fast dividing cells may be affected by your cancer treatment, which may cause side effects, like hair loss or mouth ulcers.

What Type of Chemotherapy Will I Get?

Different chemotherapy is used for different cancer types and also depends on the extent of the cancer at diagnosis, as well as other conditions (illness/es) you may have. You may receive one or more (combination) chemotherapy to treat your particular cancer.

Sometimes, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used together (which is called concurrent treatment). Your Oncologist will decide which treatment is best for you based on a thorough history and results from your other doctors via a process called a Multi-Disciplinary Meeting (MDT).

Patient Educational Video - Having Chemotherapy Treatment at the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead

If you have been recommended to have chemotherapy as part of your cancer treatment plan, it is important that you understand what is involved. A short educational video has been produced by our staff, with the assistance of Tonic Health Media, from funds raised from the "Dry July" campaign. The aim behind the video is to help patients better understand what chemotherapy involves and hopefully allay some of their fears and worries.

What Support/Education Will I Get?

Prior to your first chemotherapy, an education session will be planned for you to attend. This will provide you with useful relevant information and help allay any fears you may have about your chemotherapy treatment. At the Chemotherapy Education Session you are able to ask the staff any questions you have about your treatment. You will taken on a tour of the facility and show you where to attend on your first treatment. Here you will meet some of the treating nurses and pharmacists that will be involved in your chemotherapy treatment.

Following each chemotherapy cycle, you will have regular follow-up appointments with your Oncologist. This will provide you with the opportunity to ask more questions, tell them of any difficulties and/or side effects from your chemotherapy. It is important to be honest about the side effects you are experiencing so that we can attempt to lessen them for the next cycle. At this time, you may undergo progress scans and/or blood tests to be reviewed by your doctor.

Patient and Carer Information Resources

Ministry of Health Information/Factsheet/Consent Form on Co-payment of Section 100 Highly Specialised Drugs and Section 100 Injectable and Infusible Chemotherapy Medicines in NSW

Cancer Council - Chemotherapy' Being prepared and understanding chemotherapy can help lessen some of the stress surrounding your treatment

Cancer Institute NSW -What is chemotherapy and how will it affect me?

Cancer Australia - How does chemotherapy work and much more