Chemotherapy Information

General Chemotherapy Information

Chemotherapy is treatment with drugs that destroy the cancer cells. Chemotherapy will affect all rapidly dividing cells. This includes cancer cells, but also some normal cells. Some rapidly dividing cells are blood forming cells (bone marrow), hair follicles, and cells lining the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract including stomach, intestine and mouth). These effects on the normal cells are called side effects. It is important to realize that most side effects are temporary and reversible. Most will improve after stopping the drugs or by decreasing the dose. Some side effects may result in long term problems with the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, nervous system, hearing, or fertility. Also, patients who receive chemotherapy could be at risk for developing a second, unrelated cancer later in life.

Chemotherapy drugs can be given into a vein (IV, intravenously), into a muscle (IM, intramuscularly), just below the skin (SC, subcutaneously), into the spinal fluid (IT, intrathecally) or can be taken by mouth (PO, orally).

Each child responds differently to a drug.  It is important to report any problems, and/or any unusual happenings to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Please refer to the section on Treatment and Effects and the section on Caring for your Child and Family - Giving Medications at Home in the parent binder (The Children's Oncology Group - Family Handbook) for general information on chemotherapy.  After reading this material, if any questions or concerns should arise, please ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. They are there to help you.

The information sheets are also available in French (by clicking Francais found on the specific agent information page and not in the blue tool bar at the top).

For agents that do not appear on this list, type in the agent name in the search bar. If still no information is available contact the IWK Oncology Pharmacy office (902-470-6474).

When printing, it is best to click on the print symbol adjacent to the agent name and not print as a right click or under the file tab. It will then appear as a PDF (much more readable for the recipient).

For all other aspects of care, please refer to the APPHON-ROHPPA Guideline section of this website.

* Call the IWK clinic during clinic hours 8 AM to 4 PM on Monday to Friday at (902) 470-8819