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Chemotherapy: What to Expect

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Even after you and your doctor have decided on a chemotherapy regimen, you may still have questions about what to expect and how chemotherapy will affect your daily routine.

Your doctor and oncology nurse can answer your questions. They will give you a lot of information before your chemotherapy starts and will be there for you as your treatment goes on. If you are receiving chemotherapy as an infusion through an IV in your hand or arm, an oncology nurse will be with you during the whole procedure. If the chemotherapy is in pill form, you will take it at home.

Below, you can find an interactive/printable list of suggested items to get before you start chemotherapy that may help you manage side effects you might experience.

You should contact your doctor or nurse by phone if you're experiencing severe side effects such as mouth sores, nausea that doesn't go away after you take the medicine, diarrhea, or fever. Most cancer doctors' offices and treatment centers have a doctor or nurse available 24 hours a day to answer questions. Make sure you know how to contact someone outside of regular office hours in case you have questions or concerns.

It's important to remember that each person responds differently to chemotherapy. There are certain general reactions that most people can expect, but don't worry if your reactions — physically or emotionally — are different from someone else's.

In this section, you can read about what to expect if you're having chemotherapy:

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How to use our checklists

Use this checklist to prepare for starting chemotherapy:

  • To save the checklist and use it on your smartphone or tablet or to print it out, click "Save and Resume Later" and then click the URL. You can also email it to yourself, family, or friends.
  • Depending on your unique situation, you may not need everything on the list.
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