Sign In
Medical oncology FAQ

 Will it hurt?

You may feel some discomfort when the needle (cannula) is initially inserted, but once the chemotherapy is running, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Please let your treating nurse know if you are experiencing any pain during your infusion. If you have a central venous access device (CVAD), there should be no pain either. Again, please let your treating nurse know if you are experiencing any pain around your line. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause inflammation of the veins (phlebitis) which can cause some discomfort for a few days. 

 Will I lose my hair and how long will it take to grow back?

Depending on what type of chemotherapy you receive you may experience complete hair loss, hair thinning or no impact on your hair at all. Ask your treating team if the drugs you are getting are likely to cause hair loss. It usually takes around 3-6 months for hair to grow back. 

 Can I still kiss and hug my kids?

Yes, hugging and kissing your kids and loved ones is completely safe. 

 Will I still get my period?

Your period may become irregular or stop for a while on chemotherapy (as it reduces the levels of hormones produced by the ovaries). It often will return to normal after finishing chemotherapy. If periods don’t return, the ovaries may have completely stopped working, causing early menopause. 

 How much does it cost?

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsides the cost of many chemotherapy drugs for people with a current Medicare card. You usually have to contribute to the cost of oral chemotherapy drugs you take at home (co-payment). There may also be other out-of-pocket expenses. For example, you will usually have to pay for any medicines that you take at home to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy (such as anti-nausea medicine).

 Can I have chemotherapy during pregnancy?

Chemotherapy is generally safe for both the mother and the baby during the second and third trimesters, after the baby's organs have fully developed. It’s best to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your oncologist or haematologist before treatment begins.

 Can I still breastfeed?

You will be advised not to breastfeed during chemotherapy as drugs can be passed to the baby through the breastmilk.

 Can I still work?

Whether you are able to work during treatment will depend on:

  • the type and stage of cancer;
  • the type of treatment you have and its side effects;
  • how you feel during treatment;
  • the kind of work you do.

It’s best to discuss the demands of your job with your health care team and ask them how much time off you are likely to need or whether you will be able to work throughout your treatment and recovery. 

 How will I know if the treatment is working?

Throughout your treatment you will have regular blood tests, imaging and assessment by your treating team to monitor your cancer.   

 How sick am I going to get?

A lot of patients are concerned about nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. We have a range of medications we use to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting which you will get before treatment and to take home with you. 

 Can I go to the dentist while I’m on chemotherapy?

It’s recommended that you get any dental work done before starting treatment. If you do need to have dental work done during treatment, please let your treating team know, as this will need to be timed appropriately and you may need antibiotics. 

 What about vaccinations?

We recommend the COVID and flu vaccinations for all of our patients. If you are getting vaccinated during chemotherapy, we recommend you get it right before treatment (once your blood counts have recovered). 

 Can I still go swimming?

We recommend avoiding busy public swimming pools during your treatment, due to risk of infection. You will not be able to swim if you have a PICC line, PowerLine or Hickmanns.  

 How often will I get chemotherapy and how long will treatments last?

The frequency and duration of you chemotherapy treatment will depend on your cancer type. Your treating team will discuss this with you during your initial consultation. 

 Can I take part in a clinical trial?

You will need to discuss this with your treating team to see whether there is a suitable trial available and you meet the eligibility criteria. 

 Can I take other medicines?

You will need to advise your treating team about all current/new medications you are taking to ensure there are no interactions with the drugs we are giving you.   

 What happens if I get COVID?

If you become COVID positive during your treatment, please call the Helpline on 1800 965 222 to inform us. We will need to delay your treatment and commence you on anti-viral therapy immediately.  ​