Debbie Coats, RN, ONC.
Publications Cancer Information Nurse Specialist, CancerBACUP, London
Chemotherapy drugs, or cytotoxic agents, may be used to treat cancers, leukaemias and lymphomas. There are over 50 such drugs, which can be used as single agents, or in combination.
- Intravenous injection or infusion - (most common)
All cytotoxic agents cause side-effects and a balance has to be struck between the benefits and possible toxicity.
This is caused by most cytotoxic drugs. It commonly occurs 7-10 days after drug administration. Blood counts must be checked before each treatment: if the bone marrow has not recovered, the dose may need to be reduced or the next treatment delayed. Side-effects include (Box 1):
Other side-effects of chemotherapy include (Box 1):
Perry, M. (2001)The Chemotherapy Source Book. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott.