Chemotherapy: Staying on Schedule

You may be asked to come in for chemo treatments once a week, once every 10 days or once every two or three weeks. Every chemo drug works in a different way, and different cancers have different ways of dividing and growing—so your medical oncologist will calculate the precise treatment cycle based on these factors.

Chemo can also be given orally. Chemo taken by mouth is as strong as other forms and works just as well. It will be up to you (the person undergoing chemo) or your caregiver to ensure that you follow your prescribed treatment schedule.

That means to get the best long-term results, you need to get your full chemo dose on time, every time. Don’t skip treatments, and don’t delay them. Chemo’s goal is to kill the maximum possible number of cancer cells. If you disrupt your treatment schedule, it could create a gap that allows cancer cells to regroup. However, sometimes it is necessary to have a short break in the chemo treatment cycle, especially if your blood counts take longer to recover. This is okay and is not uncommon, so you should not be overly concerned.

What’s a typical chemo cycle like?
A typical cycle might involve going into a chemo suite for one dose, followed by a few days or weeks without treatment. Since chemo affects both normal and cancerous cells, resting between treatments is important because it allows normal cells to bounce back.

In addition to making your treatment effective, staying on schedule can help with planning. Over time, you’ll be able to predict when you’re going to need to rest and when you’ll feel well enough to schedule fun activities. Record your physical symptoms on your calendar each day to spot the patterns.

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More Chemo Basics

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