10 Things Every Patient With Cancer Should Know About Chemotherapy

January 05, 2015

Oncology nurses know a few things about patients with cancer and their reactions to treatment. In fact, one could say that the oncology nurse is really the expert, having seen it all. But, it is nice to have things written down simply to improve health literacy. 

So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a list titled “10 Things Every Cancer Patient Should Know About Chemo.” The handy list provides good definitions and explanations for patients who are confused and nervous about chemotherapy treatment. Some examples from the list include the following.

1. Take Action If You Get a Fever

"If you’re only going to remember one thing from this article, this is the one I want you to remember: If you spike a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, call your doctor immediately. Also, take your temperature any time you feel unwell or not 'right.' Many times, fever may be your body’s only sign of an infection."

3. Ask Your Doctor When You’ll Be Most at Risk

"Chemotherapy treatment will usually involve a number of chemotherapy doses (sometimes called cycles). In the 7 to 12 days after you finish each chemotherapy dose is when you have the fewest white blood cells in your body. Because of this, it will be extra hard for your body to fight off germs during this time. Find out from your doctor or nurse exactly when your white blood cell count will be at its lowest, and be extra careful during this time."

9. Enjoy the Things You Love to Do

This one includes tips on going out in public, gardening, and caring for your pet.

The CDC also offers the following resources as part of its Preventing Infections in Patients With Cancer program.


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