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Cancer Support: Coping With Cancer Treatments

Chemotherapy Treatment for Cancer

Chemotherapy medicines help keep cancer cells from growing and dividing. Your doctor will tailor treatment to your needs, based on the type, stage, and grade of your cancer.

Chemotherapy is given in a variety of ways and how you receive it will depend on the type of cancer you have. You might take pills or get the medicine in a vein. You may need chemo every day, every week, or monthly. Treatment could last for several months or longer.

You may have treatment at St. Luke's Cancer Institute, at the hospital, or at home. It will depend on the type of medicine you need.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Click each question below for its answer:

Can I drink alcohol while taking chemotherapy?
Talk with your doctor.
Can I get pregnant?
It’s recommended that men and women having chemotherapy use birth control to avoid pregnancy. Chemotherapy can damage a fetus and lead to serious congenital problems. Talk to your doctor about birth control. If you’re a woman having chemotherapy and your menstrual period stops, tell your doctor.
Can I go to the dentist while having chemotherapy?
It depends on your white blood cell count. It’s best to have your dentist talk with your doctor first. If your white blood count is normal, dental work may be okay.
Can I smoke?
Avoid smoking, since it can cause respiratory problems. If you need help quitting, talk with a nurse or your doctor.
Do I need to avoid other medicines while I take chemotherapy?
Only take medicines prescribed by your doctor. Don’t take aspirin or any medicines that contain aspirin, such as pain relievers or cold medicines, unless your doctor says it’s okay. You may take acetaminophen for mild pain. Let your doctor know if your pain gets worse.
Do I need to avoid sex?
There is no medical reason to avoid sexual intercourse during chemotherapy unless you have a very low white blood count or low platelets.
How long will I have chemotherapy?
It depends on how your cancer responds to treatment. You may need medicine for several weeks, months, or years.
How soon after chemotherapy ends can I try to have children?
Each situation is different. It’s best to talk with your doctor.
Should I avoid people with colds and flu?
Yes, avoid anyone with a cold or flu. Take special care to avoid people who have chicken pox.
Should I take shots or vitamins?
If you’re eating regular meals, you may not need vitamins. Talk with your doctor if you want to take vitamins.
Will chemotherapy make me sterile?
Some male and female patients become sterile. It depends on age, the type of tumor, the type and dose of medicine given. It could be permanent or temporary. Talk with your doctor before you start treatment. Options such as sperm banking may be possible.
Will I be able to keep working?
Many people can keep working without problems.
Will I have other treatment, such as surgery, radiation, and immunotherapy?
Your treatment will depend on your cancer. Your doctor will consider the most advanced, up-to-date therapy for your diagnosis and will consult other experts as needed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about other possible treatments.
Will I need more rest or need to eat different foods?
Rest when you’re tired. Eat the foods you like, and try to keep a healthy weight. Your doctor or nurse will let you know if you need to eat special foods.
Learn more about Medical Oncology at St. Luke's MSTI

Support the Patients and Families at St. Luke's Cancer Institute

Support the Patients and Families at St. Lukes Cancer Institute

You Can Make a Difference

You can make a real difference in the lives of patients and families facing cancer. We hope you’ll help us provide the exceptional healthcare and support they deserve. We encourage you to get involved by making a financial gift, sponsoring or attending events, or volunteering your time.