Chemotherapy: Frequently Asked Questions

woman's arm being infused with medicine as she asks FAQ about chemotherapy

Chemotherapy: Frequently Asked Questions


When you first find out that your doctor is prescribing chemotherapy for your cancer treatment, you may have many questions. That’s understandable; getting answers to some of your questions can help prepare you for your treatment. 

Each person’s chemotherapy experience will be different, starting with emotional and physical effects and ending with side effects. Additionally, each patient’s chemotherapy plan can include different drugs and medicines, depending on their particular needs. 

There are many things to consider and new information to learn, and the chemotherapy frequently asked questions below can help you get started on your recovery journey. 

What is Chemotherapy?

You are probably already familiar with the basics of chemotherapy, but before getting into more specific questions, let’s review some helpful info. 

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy can stop or slow down cancer cell growth and works by attacking cells that divide too quickly. 

Along with cancer cells, other healthy cells can also divide quickly. Chemotherapy kills these healthy quick-dividing cells in addition to cancer cells, causing side effects like hair loss and mouth sores. Usually, these side effects stop after chemotherapy treatment is finished. 

How Does my Doctor Decide Which Chemotherapy is Right for me?

Your doctor will choose the type of chemotherapy you receive based on your specific cancer diagnosis and cancer stage. Your doctor will also consider any other health conditions you may have, like diabetes or heart disease. 

How Often do I Receive Chemotherapy?

The frequency of your chemotherapy appointments will depend on the type of cancer you have, how advanced it is, the type of chemotherapy, and the goal of the chemotherapy. Your oncology team may at times decide to administer chemotherapy in cycles, which means there will be a period of treatment followed by a period of rest. Your doctor will also take into account how your body reacts to the treatment. 

What if I Skip a Dose?

Skipping chemotherapy treatments is not advisable because it lowers the level of the medicine in the body which decreases the chemo’s effectiveness. Sometimes your doctor can adjust your chemotherapy schedule based on your side effects. In this instance, you can expect your oncology team to explain your new schedule to you. 

What Will I Feel Like During Chemotherapy Treatment?

Chemotherapy treatments affect everyone differently, and your experience will depend on three major things: how healthy you were before the treatment, the type of cancer you have, and the cancer’s stage. Most people feel fatigued immediately following chemotherapy treatment. 

What are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy?

As mentioned before, chemotherapy affects each individual differently. You could have severe side effects, some, or none at all. Side effects will depend on the type of chemotherapy you are getting and how your blood reacts to them.

Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy Include:

  • Hair loss 
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Infection
  • Nerve pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 


Can I Take Other Medications During Chemotherapy Treatment?

Some medications can cause problems if taken with your chemotherapy. It is important to tell your doctor what vitamins, OTC medicines, herbs, and prescription medications you are taking. 

Do I Change What I Eat and Drink for Chemotherapy?

Eating a healthy diet is always important for your overall health. But staying well hydrated is key for the duration of your chemotherapy. You should drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily while receiving treatment. 

How Can I Tell if Chemotherapy is Working?

Your medical team will give you physical exams and medical tests to assess your progress and the effectiveness of the chemotherapy treatment. 

The Take-Away

Embarking on chemotherapy treatment can be a stressful and unfamiliar experience, and it is perfectly fine to have many questions. We hope we helped alleviate some of your concerns, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you find that you still have questions. 

Alabama Cancer Care in Alabama is Here to Answer Your Questions!

Chemotherapy treatment can seem daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Alabama Cancer Care is here to answer your questions and provide appropriate medical advice. For more information regarding chemotherapy treatments, call us in Anniston at (256) 847-3369, Ft. Payne at (256) 845-3500, Gadsden at (256) 547-0536, Montgomery at (334) 273-8877, and Sylacauga at (256) 245-0297.