Chemotherapy is most commonly given through a drip into a vein in your arm (intravenously). Intravenous infusions may be given through a specially placed device depending on how often you need chemotherapy, how long it takes to give each dose, and how long the device needs to stay in place.
Learn more about:
|PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter)||A thin tube that can stay in place for a long period of time. A PICC is inserted into a vein in the arm.|
|Port-a-cath (port)||A small device that is surgically inserted under the skin of the chest or arm. A tube called a catheter connects the port to a vein so fluids can be passed into the body.|
|Central line (central venous catheter or CVC)||A thin tube with several openings that is inserted into a vein in the neck or chest.|
|Cannula (drip)||A small, hollow plastic tube that is inserted into the hand or arm.|
Some chemotherapy drugs for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are given as tablets. Occasionally, chemotherapy is given into the fluid around the spine through a lumbar puncture. Having drugs this way is called intrathecal chemotherapy, and it is done to prevent or treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the brain or spinal cord.
You’ll usually have a combination of drugs spread over 4–6 months. The drug combination and treatment schedule will depend on the type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. While each person’s schedule varies, generally chemotherapy is given over a few days, followed by a rest period to allow the blood counts to return to normal before the next round of chemotherapy.
Throughout treatment, you will be closely monitored by your doctor and you will have tests to see how well the chemotherapy drugs are working. As chemotherapy can reduce the number of blood cells, you will have regular blood tests to check your blood count, and your liver and kidney function. You may also be given injections of a drug known as granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). This helps increase your white blood cell count and protect you from infection.
Chemotherapy treatment may be repeated several times until tests show that the cancer is in remission.
Dr Ian Bilmon, Haematologist, Westmead and Sydney Adventist Hospitals; Dr Anne Capp, Radiation Oncologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle; Rachelle Frith, Clinical Nurse Consultant Haematology, Prince of Wales Hospital; Jason Gardner, Consumer; A/Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Samantha Rennie, Social Worker, Cancer Services, St George Hospital. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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