Chemotherapy is administered in various ways, either as a drink, a pill, a capsule, via an IV, an injection and in some instances via an epidural.
To make it easier to administer chemotherapy, a portacath (a small reservoir under the skin) is usually fitted at the start of the treatment. A line attached to this portacath is inserted into a large blood vessel. The reservoir is easy to access and a local anesthetic cream is used to anesthetize the skin before a needle is inserted into the reservoir. Some children are given a central venous line. This is a tube that is inserted into a large blood vessel and its tip is fastened to the skin. No other IVs are required. Blood can also be drawn via the portacath and the line.
Chemotherapy is mostly administered by a nurse. Some chemotherapy drugs are administered in one go, others are administered by drip infusion over a set period of time.
Chemotherapy has side effects and damages mucous membranes, skin, hair and blood cells. Side effects include nausea, fatigue, a sore mouth, loss of appetite, hair loss and bruising. Many children also suffer a weakened immune system, which makes them more susceptible to infections. Your child will therefore receive supportive care in the form of medicines, blood (platelet) transfusions and in some instances tube feeding. These side effects disappear once treatment is finished.
Each type of chemotherapy has its own particular side effects. Some side effects can be permanent. These side effects are listed on the Medicine Cards in the Diary Agenda.
Should you need any further information, please feel free to ask.