Are there are particular precautions you should do before beginning chemotherapy?

Any treatments or particular precautions for the specific drugs will be advised by your doctor. In general, you should follow these suggestions: wear practical and comfortable clothing (especially for patients treated in out-patient clinics); plan in advance the day of therapy so as to free yourself from work and family commitments; prepare or have someone else prepare meals for that day; organise how you are going to arrive at the hospital; take any prescribed drugs at the times indicated by your doctor; have a light and nutritious meal with little liquids; take with you, according to your own habits, a book, newspaper, music player with headphones in order to pass the time serenely; avoid appointments or commitments in the hours immediately following your treatment; when arriving home, avoid strong smells (especially paints and perfumes).

While undergoing chemotherapy do I have to change my routine?

No! You must only be careful to prevent and treat the side effects as listed above.

Can you work?

Yes! You should avoid, however, work that it arduous and physically or mentally taxing, and those that require night shifts or involve particular attention with machinery.

Can you drive?

In general, it is best to avoid driving on the day of chemotherapy and while suffering from side effects in the days immediately following it. When side effects are not present and between rounds of chemotherapy you can carry on with your normal life including driving.

Can you have sexual relations?

Yes! There is no reason to abstain from sexual relations. During chemotherapy you may experience a decrease in sexual desire, which is usually temporary, and in this case it can be helpful to ask advice from your doctor.

Should you use contraceptives?

Yes! Pregnancy during chemotherapy could result in complications both for the mother and for the unborn child.

Do irregularities develop in your menstrual cycle?

With some drugs, yes! They are usually transitory and do not require any specific treatment. You should seek advice from your gynaecologist if you stop menstruating altogether or if your cycles become very short. Sometimes, chemotherapy can induce a permanent stop of your menstrual cycle, leading to early menopause.

During chemotherapy is it possibile to put on weight?

Yes. You should tell your doctor immediately if your weight increases by more than 2 kilograms.

During chemotherapy do you see changes in your skin and nails?

During some types of chemotherapy you may notice alterations on your skin (more pigmentation, greater sensitivity to rubbing or scratching, appearance of lines or dark spots) and lines on your nails. The veins used for the injection of drugs may become dark. Tell your doctor if these symptoms appear so you can be advised about how to treat them.

Can chemotherapy induce a fever?

Some drugs can induce fever. You should tell your doctor immediately in order to identify the cause and to decide on the best treatment.

Can it cause stinging in your eyes?

Some drugs can irritate the mucus membrane on the eyeballs. You should tell your doctor immediately who can then tell you how to resolve this problem quickly.

Can it cause “pins and needles” in your hands and feet or problems in your hearing?

Yes. In these cases you must let your doctor know immediately in order to identify the cause and to decide on the best treatment.

Can it cause cardiac problems?

Some drugs can cause cardiac problems. Let your doctor know if you experience changes in your heartbeat, breathlessness, or swelling in your legs and feet, and follow rigorously all prescribed check-ups for before, during, and after chemotherapy.

Can you continue to take prescribed medicine for other conditions?

It is usually possible to continue treatments for other medical conditions, however it is essential that you tell your doctor about the drugs (as well as natural remedies) that you are regularly taking so that he/she can evaluate any eventual interactions between the drugs.

Can you do sporting or recreational activities?

Yes! Provided that, as with work, they do not involve excessive exertion that is prolonged or repeated. Going for walks in the open air is an excellent way of getting physical exercise during chemotherapy.

Can you go to the seaside or in the mountains?

Yes! However, you should avoid the sun in the hottest hours and protect your skin with a high SPF sunscreen. In any case, you should ask your doctor about getting sun exposure because some drugs cause a considerable increase in the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet rays and can lead to serious skin damage.

Can you see your friends, family, and children?

Yes! There is no reason to change your social habits. As already mentioned, caution must be paid to avoid people with acute infections as well as closed and crowded environments.

Is chemotherapy effective if you have no side effects?

Yes! The appearance of side effects is not an indication of effectiveness. Only your doctor can tell you about the results of the treatment after having carried out the necessary medical exams.

Can you postpone chemotherapy by a few days?

Unless your doctor advises otherwise, you should not postpone treatment. The effectiveness of chemotherapy is closely tied to doses and the timing of administration of the drugs.

What happens at the end of chemotherapy?

The side effects disappear and you can resume all your normal activities and routine.

When should you talk to your doctor or a nurse?

Remember that the medical and nursing staff do not consider their work is solely about administrating drugs. Talking over your problems, even though they appear small, in a calm way with them is the best way to avoid unnecessary risks and serious complications. You must not feel alone with cancer. The best clinical results are obtained not only with the suitable treatment but also with a serene, continuous and constructive relationship between you, the patient, and everyone who is working towards your well-being.