Questions and Answers About Chemotherapy
How will I feel during chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy affects people in different ways. How you feel depends on how
healthy you are before treatment, your type of cancer, how advanced it is, the
kind of chemotherapy you are getting, and the dose. Doctors and nurses cannot
know for certain how you will feel during chemotherapy.
Some people do not feel well right after chemotherapy. The most common side
effect is fatigue, feeling exhausted and
worn out. You can prepare for fatigue by:
- Asking someone to drive you to and from chemotherapy
- Planning time to rest on the day of and day after chemotherapy
- Getting help with meals and childcare the day of and at least 1 day after
There are many ways you can help manage chemotherapy side effects.
Can I work during chemotherapy?
Many people can work during chemotherapy, as long as they match their
schedule to how they feel. Whether or not you can work may depend on what kind
of work you do. If your job allows, you may want to see if you can work
part-time or work from home on days you do not feel well.
Many employers are required by law to change your work schedule to meet your
needs during cancer treatment. Talk with your employer about ways to adjust
your work during chemotherapy. You can learn more about these laws by talking
with a social worker.
Can I take over-the-counter and prescription drugs while I get chemotherapy?
This depends on the type of chemotherapy you get and the other types of
drugs you plan to take. Take only drugs that are approved by your doctor or
nurse. Tell your doctor or nurse about all the over-the-counter and prescription drugs you take,
including laxatives, allergy medicines, cold medicines, pain relievers, aspirin, and ibuprofen.
One way to let your doctor or nurse know about these drugs is by bringing in
all your pill bottles. Your doctor or nurse needs to know:
- The name of each drug
- The reason you take it
- How much you take
- How often you take it
Can I take vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements, or herbs while I get chemotherapy?
Your doctor will give you physical exams and medical tests (such as blood
tests and x-rays). He or she will also ask you how you feel.
You cannot tell if chemotherapy is working based on its side effects. Some
people think that severe side effects mean that chemotherapy is working well.
Or that no side effects mean that chemotherapy is not working. The truth is
that side effects have nothing to do with how well chemotherapy is fighting
How much does chemotherapy cost?
It is hard to say how much chemotherapy will cost. It depends on:
- The types and doses of chemotherapy used
- How long and how often chemotherapy is given
- Whether you get chemotherapy at home, in a clinic or office, or during a
- The part of the country where you live