After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you will probably have a lot of questions. The type of treatment your medical oncologist will recommend will depend on the particular cancer you have. Treatments are given based on current evidence based research, according to protocol guidelines set out by the NSW Cancer Institute (EVIQ).
On this page:
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Most of the chemotherapy we give is delivered into the vein (intravenously). Chemotherapy can sometimes be given in other ways, such as in tablet form, as a cream or by injections into other parts of the body. The form of chemotherapy used depends on the type of cancer you have and the drugs that are being used. Your treatment team will discuss with you how your treatment will be given. You will be reviewed regularly throughout treatment to assess how you are going.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It is a treatment that is only indicated for some cancer types. Your doctor will talk to you about whether immunotherapy is suitable for you. Immunotherapy is delivered into the vein (intravenously). You will be reviewed regularly throughout treatment to assess how you are going.
Where will my treatment be given?
Most of our treatments are given in the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre (NSCC) on level 1 at Royal North Shore Hospital. Some patients are admitted to hospital to receive their chemotherapy as an inpatient. Your doctor will tell you if this applies to you. If so, your treatment will be given to you in your bed on the oncology or haematology ward.
When will my treatment start?
The nurse unit manager in the day treatment unit will call you to confirm your treatment start date. If you will be receiving your treatment as an inpatient, a nurse from the ward will call you to organise this.
Patient education session
Before starting treatment, you will attend an education session with a cancer nurse. You will be given an education package and sent links to education videos. You will also have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about your treatment.
What do I need to do before coming in for my treatment?
You need to have a blood test 1 - 2 days before coming in for treatment. You will receive a blood form from your nurse or doctor. Please drink plenty of water before coming in. This will make it easier for the nurses to find a vein for a cannula. A cannula is a small tube that is inserted into a vein to deliver the treatment. Please take any tablets as directed (this may be the day before treatment or the morning of).
What is a central line?
A central line is a small tube that is inserted into the veins of your arm, chest or neck to deliver your treatment. They are placed in the radiology department and can be left in your body for the full course of treatment. A central line may be needed if you have difficult veins to access or if it is indicated for your treatment. Some types of central lines need weekly dressings by a trained nurse either in the home or in the cancer centre. A nurse or member of the admin team will call with instructions for the procedure.
What if I feel unwell?
Please do not attend the cancer centre if you are feeling unwell. For example, if you have a fever, diarrhoea or flu-like symptoms. If you have a temperature of 38 degrees or above, you need to present to your local emergency department. If you are unsure and need some advice, please call the Cancer Helpline on 1800 965 222.
When the nurse unit manager from the day treatment unit phones you with your treatment start date, you will be asked about your COVID vaccination status and any recent COVID infections. There may be special arrangements that may apply to you.
For more information about chemo therapy and side effects please see the chemo therapy education videos.
Your first treatment
Common questions and advice about your first day of treatment.