Answers to Common Chemotherapy Questions
How often will I need treatment and for how long?
This will depend on your type of cancer, the goals of your treatment plan and how your body responds to the treatment you receive. You may be on a daily, weekly, monthly treatment schedule with breaks in between to allow your body to rest and recover strength.
Will chemotherapy or other similar treatments make me feel sick?
Most people experience some degree of nausea with treatment, but your nurse or doctor can help you manage it with anti-nausea medications and other tactics that will get you through it. Over the last several years, advances in anti-nausea medications are providing very good control of nausea symptoms.
Will I be able to return to work after a treatment session?
You may be able to continue working while receiving chemotherapy, depending on how it makes you feel. Many people are able to maintain their usual routines, although you may choose to work with your employer to adjust your schedule if you feel tired during the time you are receiving treatment.
Will I lose my hair?
Hair loss occurs with some, but not all chemotherapy drugs and can involve thinning or complete baldness. It usually begins two to three weeks after treatment starts. The important thing to remember is that hair loss is temporary and your hair will grow back.
The “Look Good …Feel Better” program is available to help you cope. Look Good … Feel Better is a free, non-medical, brand-neutral, national public service program founded in 1989 and supported by corporate donors to help women offset appearance-related changes from cancer treatment. Look Good … Feel Better gives patients a chance to meet with a cosmetic professional to examine options that relate to their physical and emotional well being – and with other patients for additional support. This program is offered regularly at Community Memorial. For more information, call CareConnection at 262-251-1001.
What are the risks with this type of treatment?
The most common side effects of chemotherapy are low blood counts, nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. Low blood counts and infection are side effects that have the potential to become serious. However, there has been a great deal of progress in preventing and managing the side effects of medical therapies for cancer and your doctor and nurses will use every tool at their disposal to make sure you experience as few side effects as possible. Be sure to let them know if you are experiencing anything that makes you feel ill or uncomfortable so they can address it right away.
Can my chemotherapy be combined with my radiation therapy visits?
It will depend on how your body reacts to treatment, but in many cases, both types of treatment can be scheduled at the same time. In fact, for some types of cancer, receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy together is more effective than receiving either treatment alone. Chemotherapy can increase the effects of radiation on the body and receiving both treatments in the same time period may increase the side effects you experience.