Chemotherapy At Weirton Medical Cancer Center in Weirton, WV

How does chemo work?

Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the body. Many different processes in the body at the cellular level occur to cause this. Chemotherapy works by targeting the processes that cause abnormal growth of cells. There are many different types of chemotherapy.

How is chemo given?

Chemotherapy can be taken by mouth or injected into the vein or muscle.  Chemotherapy can work alone as a single agent.  More than one chemotherapy agent can be given at once and this is referred to as combination chemotherapy.

Where is chemo given?

Treatment will often take place in the outpatient clinic/doctor’s office or at home.  In some situations, a patient may require being admitted to the hospital for treatment.

What are the side effects of chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy can affect each patient differently.  Since chemotherapy works by attacking rapidly dividing cells, it may also have an effect on normal dividing cells.  With each type of chemotherapy, there are more common side effects that may occur.  Specific side effects will be reviewed with you by your medical provider.  The following are potential side effects and management strategies:

Infection

  • Treatment may potentially weaken your immune system making you more at risk for infections.
  • Practice frequent hand washing
  • Have a thermometer at home to monitor for fevers

Diet/Nausea – Vomiting

  • If you feel sick after chemo, try to eat a light diet like crackers or cereal with very little milk.  This should pass in a day or two.
  • For weight loss, eat a diet high in calories.  Food containing fats such as ice cream are high in calories.
  • Neutropenic (counts are low) – Your doctor will tell you your counts are low and to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Avoid foods that are fatty, heavily salted, spicy or sweet
  • Try to drink 8 oz glass of fluids every 2-4 hours for the next 24-48 hours – avoid caffeine

Bowel Movements

Constipation

  • Make sure you are drinking at least six, 8oz glasses of water every day (avoid caffeine).  If you go two days without a bowel movement and this is unusual for you, ask your doctor for suggestions.
  • Increase high fiber foods (berries, pears, vegetables, grains, apples, beans, shredded wheat)
  • Increase activity as tolerated
  • Avoid straining
  • Take stool softeners/laxatives as directed

Diarrhea

  • Eat low residue diet, high in protein and calories (refined breads and cereals, applesauce, canned fruits, well cooked and canned vegetables, well cooked meat, fish)
  • Avoid caffeine, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Take anti-diarrheal as directed

What are some effective management strategies for chemotherapy?

Pain Control

  • Take your pain medication as directed.  Remember, most pain medicine takes at least 30 minutes to take effect.
  • If your pain is not controlled or if you experience a new type of pain, call your physician.
  • Avoid driving or operating equipment when taking medications

Mouth Care

  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • Rinse with salt water solution after meals and at bedtime.  (Use one teaspoon salt in one quart of water – discard after 24 hours).
  • Use Vaseline to prevent cracking of the lips
  • Avoid extremely hot liquids or foods that would burn your mouth
  • Check your mouth daily for mouth sores or white patches
  • Do not use mouthwashes that contain alcohol

Body Wastes

  • Use the toilet as usual but flush twice with lid closed for 48 hours after receiving chemotherapy.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling any urine, feces or vomitus at least 30-60 seconds.
  • Wash your skin if you get any urine, feces or vomitus on it for at least 15 seconds.
  • If anything splashes into your eyes, flush them with water for 15 minutes and notify your doctor.
  • Pregnant women should avoid any direct contact with chemotherapy or contaminated was

Laundry

  • Items soiled with chemotherapy waste, urine, feces, sweat, vomitus should be put in the washer immediately.
  • Wash items separate from other laundry in hot water.
  • If you do not have a washer, place in a sealed, plastic bag until you can get to a washer.

Limit use of alcohol

Avoid direct sunlight, wear sunglasses and sunscreen SPF >30 to protect the skin

Discuss the use of any over the counter medications with provider before taking

Oral Chemotherapy

  • Call the office when you receive your medication.
  • Review the package label, be sure to check medication name and dosage carefully.
  • Transport and store medicine as instructed and outlined in the package labeling.
  • Use gloves and wash hands thoroughly before and after taking medications.
  • Caregivers must wear gloves at all times while handling your medication and anything that has come into contact with your medication to minimize exposure.
  • If you are using a pillbox, make sure you have a separate pillbox for your chemotherapy pills.

Call your physician if you experience any of the following:

  • Temperature greater than 100.5 degrees F or 38.0 degrees C or if develop shaking chills, sore throat, frequency and/or burning with urination
  • Bleeding – blood in sputum, urine or stool, bleeding from gums, nosebleeds or excessive bruising
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness or extreme fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting persists for more than 24 hours
  • Diarrhea or vomiting persists for more than 24 hours
  • Experience 4-5 loose stool a day
  • Mouth soreness, difficulty swallowing or white patches in the mouth
  • Rash – new or worsening

See our page on cancer treatment for more information about treatment options that would be ideal for you and your individual case. Please contact WMC Cancer Center, at (304) 908-4617 to schedule an appointment today.