Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer using drugs to destroy cancerous cells. As NCCT is the regional treatment centre for the North of England, we treat a wide range of diseases and use some very complex chemotherapy treatments, many of which are not available in other cancer units.
We have a dedicated team of expert staff who will take good care of you. You will be assigned a nurse for the duration of your treatment, to provide the best possible personal care. We also work closely with the community MacMillan nurses and district nurses, to ensure you get as much support as you need when away from the hospital.
Patients having chemotherapy can always access to our complementary therapies, notably the arts therapy service, “Room for You” and our specialist headwear designer, “Headlines”.
Above all, we know you want to be seen as quickly as possible. NCCT is fortunate not only in the quality of care, but also in offering you appointments approximately two weeks after being referred for chemotherapy.
How does chemotherapy work?
Chemotherapy drugs work by damaging cancer cells so that they can't grow and multiply. The cells eventually die, and the cancer may then shrink, or go away completely.
Chemotherapy can be given in a number of different ways, depending on what kind of cancer you have, and how long you need treatment.
Most chemotherapy is injected into a vein and then spreads through the blood stream to reach cancer cells in whatever part of the body they may be. Injecting the drugs into the blood stream may be done in a number of ways:
- One way is through a cannula, which is a fine tube inserted into a vein usually in the back of the hand or forearm. This tends to be for shorter cycles of treatment.
- A longer tube may be inserted through a vein in the arm or the chest. These can stay in place for the whole treatment course which means you do not need to have a needle inserted into a vein each time you attend.
- These longer tubes can be called:
‘Midline catheters’ are inserted in the arm
'Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters’ (shortened to PICC line) are also inserted in the arm
‘Hickman lines’ are inserted via the chest
If a longer line would be more appropriate for your chemotherapy you will be given full information about it
Who will look after me?
Oncologists: A consultant clinical oncologist is a doctor who specialises in treating cancer with drugs and radiotherapy. A consultant medical oncologist specialises in the use of drugs only. The oncologist will decide what treatment you need to have, and will review you regularly.
Nursing Team: Nurses will be available to help look after you and offer advice, support and any nursing care you may need.
Clinical Nurse Specialists: There may be a clinical nurse specialist working with your team who can give you expert advice about the type of cancer you have.
Specialist Palliative Care Team (SPCT): The Specialist Palliative Care Team consists of nurses (sometimes called Macmillan nurses), doctors and social workers, all of whom are experienced and trained in specialist symptom control. They also offer advice and support for patients and their families.
Outpatient reception staff: The outpatient reception staff welcome patients, family and carers to NCCT and provide a friendly and helpful support service to all.
There are many other people who can help you too. Sometimes you may want to talk to a dietician, speech and language therapist, clinical psychologist or physiotherapist. Or perhaps a social worker who can help with practical matters such as the financial benefits you might be able to claim. Just ask a member of our staff.
All of our team is committed to providing high quality care to you, your family and carers. We are continually looking at ways to improve what we do and always welcome any comments, ideas or suggestions.