Chemotherapy is the administration of a collection of drugs designed to treat cancer.
There are many different drugs that can be used, depending on the type of cancer. Sometimes they come in tablet form but many are given intravenously in a hospital setting.
Chemotherapy is a powerful form of treatment to help fight cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with other treatments as part of your cancer treatment plan - such as surgery, radiotherapy or biological agents. Most patients will be treated in cycles over a period of four to six months, with between one and four treatments per month.
This can be a difficult period for many people and though chemotherapy is often a very effective form of cancer treatment, it does have some side effects. These vary from person to person but can include:
Often you can take medicines that help to reduce any side effects. and your consultant will discuss the possible side effects associated with your treatment before you start chemotherapy. Your oncology team will also help you to prepare for them and support you through any problems.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having cancer treatment can be a time of worry and anxiety. Our experienced and caring staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
Your oncologist will usually see you at the start of each treatment cycle. These sessions normally last a morning or afternoon, and you can bring a family member or friend with you to keep you company. We’ve created 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 evenings at some Spire hospitals, to help fit 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 oncology nurses who can help answer your questions and provide any information you may need.
It is important to us 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.
Once you’re treatment session is over, you might want to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you may not feel like driving. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few days, in case you’re not feeling up to it.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After your treatment we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, advice on what you should and shouldn't do, and any other follow-up support you need. Typically your oncologist will want to see you at the end of your treatment cycle to see how you’re cancer is responding to treatment.
Like all medical treatments, chemotherapy does carry the risk of complications. For example, patients having chemotherapy are at increased risk of infection and some chemotherapy drugs increase the risk of blood clots.
If you experience any of the following symptoms:
Please don’t hesitate to call us straight away. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns we’re ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.