People receive chemotherapy (chemo) in a number of different ways:

  • Injection. Types of injection include:
    • Subcutaneous (SQ): Chemo given as a shot just under the skin
    • Intramuscular (IM): Chemo given as a shot directly into a muscle
    • Intravenous (IV): Chemo given as a shot directly into a vein
  • IV infusion: Chemo medications are dripped through a tube that is attached to a needle and put into a vein.
  • Oral: Chemo is taken by mouth as a pill or liquid.
  • Topical: Chemo is given in the form of a cream that is rubbed into the skin.
  • Intra-arterial (IA): Chemo goes into an artery that is connected to the tumor.
  • Intraperitoneal (IP): Chemo goes directly into the area that contains the intestines, stomach, liver, ovaries, etc. This area is called the peritoneal cavity.

Most chemo is given in a cancer clinic, center, or hospital. Some types of chemo may be given at home.

One session of chemo can take up to hours to complete. Bring books, music, magazines, or a friend to keep you company.

Getting a Catheter or Port

Having to put an IV in for every chemo session can be difficult. Your doctor may suggest you have a device implanted just under the skin that will allow easy access for IV chemo. This implant—called a vascular access device, or VAD—can be a catheter or port. In a relatively simple surgery, a port is placed in a vein, often in the chest. The device can stay in place over a long period of time. It will require some care and cleaning to avoid risk of infection around the port or catheter.

  • The Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide can help you understand your
    risk of infection

    Infection can be a serious side effect of strong chemo. Find out the factors that affect your risk 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.