After determining the stage of your cancer, your doctor will create a treatment plan. It's important to keep to this plan as closely as possible. Staying on schedule may give you the best chance of meeting your treatment goals. Ask your doctor what you can do to help avoid chemo side effects that could interrupt your schedule.

Your Treatment Plan

The plan your doctor creates is based on facts about you and your cancer, including:

  • The type of cancer you have
  • Your health and situation
  • The type, size, and stage of the cancer

Treatment plans may also include one or more other types of therapy. Common forms of cancer therapy may include:

During treatment, cancer progress and tumor response are monitored closely. Treatment plans may be modified to achieve the best possible results.

Chemotherapy Cycles

The treatment plan can include chemo drugs given at specific doses and intervals. These intervals are referred to as your cycles. During a cycle, you may get treatment for one or more days followed by a period when no chemotherapy is given. This allows your body to rest and build new cells. Your doctor will determine a schedule that works best for you.

chemotherapy schedule

Chemo Schedules

Your chemo cycles are given on a schedule based on your treatment goals, how the chemo drugs in your regimen work, and how your body reacts to the treatment. Different drugs work at different times in the cell cycle (division and growth process of cancer cells). The goal of the schedule can be to give chemo drugs as often as possible while minimizing side effects that could interrupt that schedule.

Staying with the treatment plan your doctor prescribes is important. Studies have shown that patients with certain cancers who were able to take most of their planned dose of chemo had better treatment results. But your doctor may reduce your dose or delay it because of side effects from your chemotherapy. It is important that you talk to your doctor and care team before each cycle of chemotherapy to find out what you may be able to do to help manage any side effects that can result in dose delays and decreases.

Staying on Schedule

Staying with your prescribed treatment is an important part of any chemo plan. Some of this is done by managing side effects to avoid treatment delays. You may experience chemo side effects such as:

Chemo can sometimes cause more serious problems that may make you feel sick enough to go to a hospital. Some may be serious enough to threaten your life. These can include febrile neutropenia, anemia, dehydration from nausea and vomiting, or thrombocytopenia. Ask about the side effects that can make you miss doses or have your chemo delayed.

Learn as much as you can about your treatment plan before you begin chemo. Also, talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to help manage side effects. Learn more about chemo side effects here.

A Closer Look: Victor*
A malignant tumor has been removed from under Victor's arm. Some lymph nodes are found to have cancer cells, indicating that the cancer has spread. His doctor prescribes an intensive course of adjuvant chemotherapy.
Victor's doctor chooses a chemo treatment that is known to cause:
Victor reads as much as he can about his tumor type. He learns about his tumor stage and location.
Victor and his doctor decide that the best thing he can do is try to get through the very intense course of chemo.
Victor works with his doctor and care team ahead of time to help manage possible chemo side effects.
His doctor prescribes medications that might help him with some of the side effects. Victor also schedules a lot of rest time on his personal calendar to help manage fatigue.

*This is a fictional case study based on chemo patient experiences. Your experience is unique. Your doctor and care team will create a plan that will best treat your type of cancer and manage your chemo side effects.

  • The Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide can help you understand your
    chance for infection

    Infection can be a serious result of chemo. Find out the factors that affect your chance of infection. Simply answer a few questions, and then print your results to share with your doctor.

    Use the Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide to find out more.

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