Day Oncology with OCV
In most cases, chemotherapy will be administered as a day patient in an Oncology department of a hospital or day care facility. Oncology departments specialise in the care of patients with cancer and blood disorders. The trained nurses in the Oncology unit work alongside your doctor to administer the treatment, providing specialised care, support and expertise.
After you see your oncologist, you will head
down to the Day Oncology Unit.
This is on the ground floor at the back of the hospital at Malvern and on the ground floor next to the cafeteria at Brighton. You should know the way, as we encourage you to attend the pre-treatment education session a few days before your chemotherapy starts.
Pre-treatment Education Session
This is done by one of the day chemotherapy staff.
This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the unit and some of the staff. It will be explained to you exactly how the treatment is administered, how long the treatment will take, and how you should manage potential side-effects of the therapy. It will help you understand the process and reduce some of your anxiety.
It's a good idea to make a list of any questions you may have about your treatment. Ask as many questions as you can as our staff are here to support you. You may find the beginning of your treatment a little easier if you bring a family member or friend with you. Make sure you obtain as much information as you possibly can from your nurse to familiarise yourself with the process of your cancer treatment. And don't forget to find out how to contact your doctor or nurse in the event of an emergency.
Make sure you do the following:
- Make a list of your questions.
- Bring a family member or trusted friend. This person can help you understand what the doctor or nurse says and talk with you about it after the visit is over.
- Ask all your questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you do not understand an answer, keep asking until you do.
- Take notes.
- Ask for printed information about your type of cancer and chemotherapy.
- Let your nurse know how much information you want to know, when you want to learn it, and when you have learned enough. Some people want to learn everything they can about cancer and its treatment. Others only want a little information. The choice is yours.
- Find out how to contact your doctor or nurse in an emergency. This includes who to call and where to go.
One of the oncology nurses will meet you. You will be seated on a specially designed recliner chair to allow you to be as comfortable as possible during treatment. After checking your blood test results, the nurse will ask you some questions about any medical problems you have, and particularly any side-effects of the treatment you are receiving. She will then check your weight, your pulse rate and blood pressure, and insert an intravenous line. Saline will be administered through the line until the chemotherapy is ready.
You can have a family member, friend or support person accompany you to your chemotherapy sessions.
Treatment can cause a lot of anxiety, particularly the first one, so it is good to have someone with you. It also gives you another set of ears regarding instructions about what to do after leaving the Day Oncology Unit.
Every person experiences chemotherapy differently, both physically and emotionally. Each person experiences side effects from chemotherapy differently, and different chemotherapy drugs cause different side effects. Fortunately, as the science of cancer treatment has advanced, so has the science of managing treatment side effects. Whatever you experience, remember there is no relationship between how the chemotherapy makes you feel and whether you derive benefit from it.
Many people feel fine for the first few hours following chemotherapy. Usually, some reaction occurs about four to six hours later. However, some people don't react until 12 or even 24 to 48 hours after treatment. Some people experience almost all of the side effects described below, while others experience almost none.
You will be given a set of medications to take home with you to minimise the side-effects of therapy. These will include medications you need to take throughout your entire treatment course, some you need to take for a few days after therapy, and some you have only if side-effects occur. Both the chemotherapy nurse and the pharmacist will give you verbal and written explanations for all of these medications.
We have many treatments to help you deal with side effects. Please let us know how you are feeling, so that we can address your concerns and help make you more comfortable. Your well-being is very important to us.
Chemotherapy usually has an effect on the bone marrow, which produces all the blood cells. During the course of your therapy, your white blood cell count will fall, making you more susceptible to infections. Less commonly, your red blood cell count may fall, making you anaemic.
To monitor these changes, you will need to have frequent blood tests, particularly on the day prior to each administration of chemotherapy.
It is not safe to administer further chemotherapy if your white cell count has not recovered, so treatment may need to occasionally be delayed, or dosages reduced.
Certain drugs have effects on other organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. Regular blood tests will also monitor kidney and liver function. Echocardiography is used to monitor heart function, and is usually done prior to commencing certain types of chemotherapy, and at regular intervals throughout.