This page contains a series of leaflets in the form of links which provide additional information on subjects regarding chemotherapy from the beginning of your treatment to when it is completed.
The Macmillian Unit at Calderdale Royal Hospital
Greenlea Unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a type of treatment for cancer. It uses special drugs to kill cancer cells in the body. Some types of cancer can be treated with just chemotherapy. Sometimes chemotherapy is used with other treatments like radiotherapy and surgery.
Why is chemotherapy given?
Chemotherapy is given for different reasons:
- It can be given because it is the best way to get rid of the cancer
- It can be given because other treatments are not enough on their own to get rid of the cancer
- It can be given to help you live longer
- It can also be given to manage and palliative symptoms
How chemotherapy works
There are lots of different types of chemotherapy drugs. The drugs travel through the body in your blood.
They work by damaging the cancer cells so that they can not spread and make more cancer cells.
The drugs can also kill some of the healthy cells in your body. But healthy cells can usually mend
themselves and get back to normal after a short time. The effects of the drugs on healthy cells can
cause side effects like tiredness or feeling sick. Some people will only have a few side effects and others may have more.
What happens when I have chemotherapy?
Your doctor will tell you when you will need treatment. Some people have treatment for a few weeks and other people might need to have treatment for a few months. People usually have some treatments and then have a break from the treatments.
Over the time you are having chemotherapy your doctor will keep checking to see how the treatment is working. They might then change your treatment.
Usually people come to the hospital for treatment and then go home the same day.
24 - 48 hours prior to each chemotherapy treatment you will need to have a blood test in order to do this you need to book via this telephone number 01484 355765 to arrange for your bloods taking. The appointment can be at either Huddersfield Royal Infirmary or Calderdale Royal Hospital.
If you are a patient from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust you can have your pre-treatment bloods taken at your local hospital (Pontefract 01977 747130 or Dewsbury 01924 512244 contact them to arrange an appointment). You will be given a blood form from the Chemotherapy Nurse at CHFT to take with you.
You will receive a parking exemption permit please ask the nurses when you arrive.
How is chemotherapy administrered
Chemotherapy treatment can be given in different ways. The two main ways that chemotherapy is
Tablets or capsules.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you how many tablets to take and how often to take them.
It is very important you know when to take your tablets. You may need support with this.
This means putting the drugs into your blood through your skin using a needle. There are different
places on your body that the drugs can be injected into. You will usually have to have lots of treatments,
so the nurse will put a small tube under your skin that stays there all the way through your
treatment. This is called a portacath it makes it easier to give you the drugs without having to give
you lots of injections.
Not everyone will get side-effects, as different drugs have different side-effects and each person reacts in a different way.
Information on extravasation
This provides information for patients whose chemotherapy may have leaked from the vein into which they were having their chemotherapy, this is known as an extravasation.
It will explain what an extravasation is, what complications may occur and how it will be managed.
What is an extravasation?
Extravasation occurs when chemotherapy leaks from a vein into the skin or surrounding tissues.
Extravasations can also occur in rare occasions even if you have a PICC line or a central line placed
If an extravasation occurs you will usually notice pain, swelling or redness near the site of the drip used for your chemotherapy.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms whilst having your chemotherapy YOU MUST inform the nurses immediately.
The complications will vary depending on which chemotherapy drug has caused the problem.
Most patients will experience few problems following an extravasation however some drugs may damage the skin and surrounding tissues if they leak.
It can result in swelling, redness, pain or the development of blisters or ulcers.
The treatment will vary depending on what drug has caused the problem.
You will be given treatment by your nurse immediately if an extravasation happens or is suspected to have happened.
You will also be given advice about what to do when you go home and any follow up appointments.
You may be given:
- An injection of drugs into the skin around the extravasation area
- Be given creams/lotions to apply to the area
- Advised to use heat or cold to the affected area
These are given to minimise any damage the chemotherapy may cause.
When you have gone home if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned you should contact us IMMEDIATELY on the patient 24hr helpline number 01422 222999.
Starting your cancer treatment
We have created a leaflet for you to download which has information for patients, carers and relatives for when you start your cancer treatment at either Huddersfield Royal Infirmary or Calderdale Royal Hospital.
Oncology and Haematology 24 hour Emergency Helpline
The Oncology and Haematology 24 hour Emergency Helpline is for problems related to your treatment or your cancer.
Chemotherapy and other treatments related to your cancer are known to have unpleasant side effects. Some of which include pain, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, constipation, diarrhoea, sore mouth, loss of appetite, feeling generally unwell, infection, sore hands and feet.
When to contact us
Please contact us immediately if any of these things happen.
- High temperature or fever. If you feel hot, cold shivery or otherwise unwell, please check your temperature with a thermometer (a normal temperature is 37°C or 98.4°F). If your temperature is less than 36°C or 38°C (100°F) or higher, please ring the hospital team immediately. Do not take anything (even paracetamol) to bring your temperature down, until you have sought advice from your hospital team. This is because they could hide any symptoms of infection and make it difficult to work out what was wrong with you.
- Feeling very unwell or having symptoms of infection, even if you don't have a temperature
- Sever sickness or a sore mouth which prevents you from swallowing or keeping drinks down.
- Severe diarrhoea.
- Bruises or small blood spots which appear on your body
- Blood when you go to the toilet, or bleeding elsewhere which doesn't stop easily.
- A headache which doesn't get better with paracetamol.
The Oncology and Haematology 24 Hour Helpline leaflet
Please click here to access a leaflet with further information
What to expect when you contact the helpline
When you contact the helpline – you will be greeted by an acute oncology nurse/health care assistant. Who will ask you questions regarding how you have been feeling.
Please note – the helpline is based in Huddersfield (although the number shows as Halifax).
If you ring the helpline and there is no answer, please leave your full name, date of birth, hospital number and a telephone number for the team to contact you back. We aim to respond to all messages in a timely manner.
Most times, we can advise you over the telephone, however it may be that you need to attend hospital to be reviewed in person by the specialist doctor/nurse.
In this case you will be asked to attend ward 12 at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
You’ll be seen by a nurse who will take your observations and a blood test. Then be reviewed by a doctor.
Although we aim to discharge most of our patient who attend the helpline – there may be a situation that you may need to be admitted into hospital. In this case we always advise for you to bring in an overnight bag and current medication.
Cancer Research UK
A charity that is researching treatments for cancer. Its website has lots of information about cancer.
Phone: 0808 800 4040
Macmillan Cancer Support
A charity that helps people who have cancer. They give practical, medical and financial support. They try to make cancer care in the UK better.
Phone: 0808 808 00 00