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What Is Home Chemotherapy?

A caregiver or visiting nurse can sometimes administer chemotherapy treatment at a patient's home.
Because each patient as a different reaction to chemotherapy, and it's impossible to predict how effective the treatment will be in the long run.
An IV bag of cancer medication.
Home chemotherapy allows a patient to receive treatment in a comfortable setting.
Article Details
  • Written By: Pamela Pleasant
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Home chemotherapy is used for treating a cancer patient at home as opposed to in a hospital setting. This alternative treatment option is used for patients who are too weak or overly stressed to travel to receive medical help or who have a caretaker who cannot provide transportation for the patient. In home chemotherapy, cancer patients can administer their treatment themselves, or they can be treated by a caregiver or visiting nurse. Often it is less stressful to recover from chemotherapy at home, though home chemotherapy poses some risks to both the patient and his family and caregivers.

With this type of therapy, cancer medications can be delivered by taking pills or having an intravenous (IV) drip. In some cases, a single injection can be given to administer medication. All of these things can be done at home. Medications can be administered either by the patient himself or by a caregiver or nurse. A nurse is typically, though not always, assigned to travel to the patient’s home when he needs chemo medications to assist with the therapy.

Although home chemotherapy is beneficial for the cancer patient, there are precautionary measures that must be taken. During home chemotherapy treatments, family members can come in contact with the drugs being used, which can be dangerous to them. Even small amounts of chemo-related medicine could cause symptoms that include loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and allergic reactions.

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Bodily waste material and bodily fluids are another danger when it comes to home chemotherapy. After a chemo drug has been administered, it is then excreted from the body in urine or feces. These waste materials contain the chemo medication. Toilet seats, bed linens, blankets, and clothing can contaminate caregivers if they are soiled with waste.

Home chemotherapy also poses risks for patients who are vulnerable to infection while they receive treatment. Patients who are participating in a home chemotherapy program should wear protective masks to avoid breathing in germs. No sick friends or relatives should be allowed to visit until the illness has passed. Houseplants, which can harbor mold, should be removed from the home until the chemo treatments are finished.

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