At Spire Murrayfield Hospital in Edinburgh our patients can undergo a range of treatments for cancer, including chemotherapy, in our state-of-the-art Oncology Day Chemotherapy Centre (ODCC). Read more about our oncology unit, here. For more information about chemotherapy at Spire Murrayfield Hospital in Edinburgh please contact us.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to treat cancer. There are many different chemotherapy drugs available, some useful for treating a variety of different types of cancer, while others can only be used to treat one or two types. Sometimes chemotherapy medications are in tablet form, but they are more commonly given as an ‘intravenous’ medication in a hospital or clinic setting. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy or biological agents.

If you need private chemotherapy treatment, Spire Healthcare hospitals aim to provide a warm and friendly environment where you can feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Your team will have access to the latest innovations in chemotherapy treatment for a wide range of cancers to make sure you get the best care available.

Your consultant oncologist will develop an individually tailored and integrated care plan for you and you will be cared for throughout your treatment by a team of specialist oncology nurses.

What is involved in having private chemotherapy?

If you need chemotherapy, you will be referred to a consultant oncologist who specialises in your type of cancer. They will discuss the type and length of treatment you need with you, and will oversee all of your chemotherapy. You will also have the opportunity to talk about your treatment and any side effects with the nursing team before your first session of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is often given in a hospital setting but in some cases it may involve medications such as tablets that you can take at home.

Chemotherapy may become a part of your life for a while. For most patients, chemotherapy treatment will be given in cycles over a period of four to six months, with between one and four treatments each month. 

Your oncologist will usually see you at the start of each treatment cycle. Treatment sessions normally last a morning or afternoon, and you can bring a family member or friend with you to keep you company. Spire Cancer Care offers you a relaxed and friendly environment so that you can feel as comfortable as possible while you are here. We also offer flexible appointment times, including evening appointments at some Spire hospitals, to help you fit treatment around your daily life.

Chemotherapy is usually given through a drip in your arm together with anti sickness drugs. You will be able to sit or lie comfortably and read, watch TV and eat and drink as normal. You will be cared for throughout each treatment by our specialist oncology nurses who can help answer your questions and provide any information you may need.

It is important that you feel supported and reassured throughout the process, so your nurses will give you a list of contact numbers for you to use any time of the day or night if you need support or advice.

What are the side effects with chemotherapy?

Side effects vary depending on the type of chemotherapy drugs used. You may not experience all the side effects associated with the drug you are taking, and if you do, they may only be mild. Most side effects are temporary, and will go after treatment has finished. Often you can take medicines that help to reduce any side effects. Your consultant will discuss the possible side effects associated with your treatment before you start chemotherapy. Your oncology team will help you to prepare for them and support you through any problems.

Common side effects to chemotherapy include sickness, hair loss (depending upon the type of chemotherapy you have) and tiredness, which is the most common side effect. Treatment can also affect the blood, digestive system, mouth, skin, nails, fertility, bone marrow and some body organs. For more information on specific side effects visit the Cancer Research UK website’s cancer drugs section.

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