Chemotherapy without delay

Chemotherapy, also known as a type of systemic anti-cancer therapy or SACT, is the use of drugs to destroy or stop the growth of cancer cells. SACT is the collective name given to a group of cancer drugs that are used to treat cancer. Other forms of SACT we offer include immunotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapies.

Research in oncology and clinical trials have advanced and improved the effectiveness of these treatments, which are delivered by a highly trained multidisciplinary team led by our oncology consultants, to ensure you get the best treatment and care. Oncology consultants are doctors who specialise in the treatment of cancer.

At GenesisCare, we use chemotherapy to treat and manage a wide range of cancers, including breast cancer, bowel cancer, blood cancers and lung cancer.

Leading chemotherapy experts here to support you

If you choose to have your cancer treatment at GenesisCare, your consultant will work with you to develop a personalised care plan based on your specific diagnosis and preferences.

Throughout your chemotherapy, you’ll receive support from a care team of highly trained nurses who are experts in SACTs and managing side effects.

Enquire now

Contact us today to find out more about our chemotherapy service and how we can help you.

0808 304 2332
0808 304 2332

Top-rated cancer treatment

Accredited centres

All our cancer treatment centres have received the prestigious Macmillan Quality Environment Mark for creating friendly and relaxing spaces for people living with cancer.

24/7 oncology nursing

Our compassionate nursing teams are available 24 hours a day on their dedicated emergency service line to answer your concerns, provide advice about side effects and medical care.

Integrative care

We give every patient access to therapies that are proven to improve outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer, including psychological support and exercise medicine.

What is chemotherapy?

A chemotherapy drug travels through your bloodstream and reaches all parts of your body. This is why it’s called a systemic treatment.

When the chemotherapy drug is in your body, it can either destroy cancer cells or prevent growth by disrupting how they divide and grow. The drug can also affect normal, healthy cells.

Damaged healthy cells may cause you to experience side effects. But most of these are temporary because healthy cells quickly grow back.

How does chemotherapy work?

There are lots of different chemotherapy drugs and they all work in a similar way. The type of chemotherapy drug you have will depend on where in your body your cancer started, how advanced your cancer is and if you’ve previously had chemotherapy. This is because different drugs work on different types of cancer. You may need regular blood tests to assess your overall health and to monitor how your body is responding to chemotherapy during your treatment.

At what stage of cancer is chemotherapy used?

Your consultant may recommend chemotherapy as part of your cancer treatment options for several reasons. These include:

  • Using it as the main therapy to treat your cancer
  • To shrink a tumour before surgery or radiotherapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy)
  • To reduce the risk of your cancer coming back after surgery or radiotherapy (adjuvant chemotherapy)
  • To make cancer cells more sensitive to radiotherapy (often called chemoradiotherapy or chemoradiation)
  • To treat or control cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and to ease symptoms (palliative chemotherapy)

How is chemotherapy given?

There are many different types of chemotherapy. The main ways to have chemotherapy are:

  • By mouth as tablets or capsules (oral chemotherapy)
  • By injection or a drip directly into a vein via a catheter or cannula (intravenous chemotherapy)

Intravenous chemotherapy can be delivered through a cannula placed into your arm at the start of each session or using a central vascular access device (CVAD), which remains in place until your chemotherapy has finished. Your consultant will explain CVADs in detail, and answer any of your questions, if this is how your chemotherapy will be given.

Other ways you can have chemotherapy are:

  • By injection into a muscle (intramuscular) or under the skin (subcutaneous)
  • Directly into a body cavity (intracavitary), for example, the treatment of bladder cancer
  • Directly to the skin as a cream for some skin cancers

You might have chemotherapy in more than one way. For example, your consultant may recommend you have one type of chemotherapy as a tablet and another as an injection.

How long does chemotherapy take?

Chemotherapy is personalised to you depending on your type and stage of cancer and the drugs you’re receiving. Typically, chemotherapy is given as several treatment sessions through an external infusion pump, with rest periods in between each one. This is known as a chemotherapy cycle and they’re normally between one to three weeks. A course of treatment can include several cycles and usually takes between three to six months. Each session can range from several minutes up to several hours, depending on the chemotherapy drug you have.

Our chemotherapy suites are designed to make your treatment sessions calming and stress-free. You’ll be shown to your own restful treatment pod, where you can watch TV, or relax with music. You’ll receive your treatment as an outpatient, so when you’re ready, you’ll be able to go home after each session.

Chemotherapy side effects

Most common side effects caused by chemotherapy are temporary, but you might be affected by them after your treatment ends. We’ll work closely with you to limit the impact of them as much as possible. Some side effects you may experience include:

  1. Fatigue (tiredness)
  2. Reduced immune system and increased risk of infections
  3. Anaemia due to reduced number of red blood cells
  4. Bruising or bleeding due to reduced platelets
  5. Skin and nail changes
  6. Hair loss
  7. Digestive problems (Such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation)
  8. Sex and fertility issues
  9. Changes to kidneys, liver, heart and lungs
  10. Changes in hearing
  11. Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
  12. Cognitive changes (chemo brain)

Our teams are always on hand to advise you of ways to manage these side effects.

Chemotherapy FAQs

We have put together a list of commonly asked questions about chemotherapy. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please contact us, we’re always happy to help. 

Reviewed by:

Richard Schorstein
Head of Nursing
August 2021

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