Almost always, chemotherapy is administered in the outpatient setting, usually in a medical oncologist’s office. Chemotherapy is administered intravenously by an oncology nurse (specialty trained cancer nurse) who is certified in the administration of such medications.
Often a combination of chemotherapy drugs will be administered as clinical trials have demonstrated that combination chemotherapy is more effective than the administration of a single chemotherapy medication.
Different chemotherapy drugs have different potential side effects. When a medical oncologist consults with you, the reason for the use of chemotherapy is discussed, as well as the potential side effects. Over the past 30 years, improved chemotherapy has become available and side effects are less likely to occur.
When side effects of chemotherapy do occur, here are some of the most common:
- Appetite changes
- Bleeding problems
- Fatigue (feeling weak and very tired)
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Memory changes
- Mouth and throat changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nerve changes
- Sexual and fertility changes in men and women
- Skin and nail changes
- Swelling (fluid retention)
- Urination changes