What Is Chemotherapy by Injection?

H. Lo

Chemotherapy is a form of treatment that fights cancer by killing cancer cells or by slowing the growth of cancer cells, thereby slowing the spread of the disease. Depending on a patient’s specific condition, there are a variety of ways in which he or she might receive cancer treatment. Chemotherapy by injection is one such option to treat a cancer patient. With chemotherapy by injection, a patient receives the medication with the use of a needle, in the muscle, skin or vein. As with other forms of chemotherapy, chemotherapy by injection might be used in combination with other cancer treatment procedures to cure, control the spread of, or decrease pain associated with cancer.

Chemotherapy injections are usually given by specially-trained infusion nurses.
Chemotherapy injections are usually given by specially-trained infusion nurses.

The site of a muscle injection can be in the arm, hip or thigh, and to reach the muscle layer, the doctor or healthcare professional will need to use a large needle. In comparison, the site of an injection under the skin might be in the arm, belly or leg, and since it does not need to go any deeper than between the skin and muscle, the doctor will use a shorter needle. An injection in the vein is slightly different and might require the use of various medical tools, such as different types of catheters. These catheters are used for a variety of reasons, such as to allow the patient to receive multiple drugs or to undergo frequent, long-term treatment with as little damage to veins as possible.

The arm is a common place for a chemotherapy injection.
The arm is a common place for a chemotherapy injection.

In addition to chemotherapy by injection, other forms of chemotherapy treatment include oral and topical. Whichever form of treatment a person receives, there is always the risk of side effects, as the drugs used in the medication not only destroy cancer cells, but they alter or damage healthy cells too. As such, the loss of healthy cells causes side effects to occur. Examples of chemotherapy side effects include changes in taste, hair loss and mouth or throat sores. Usually, chemotherapy side effects will go away after treatment ceases.

The emotional side effects of chemotherapy can be difficult for patients to deal with.
The emotional side effects of chemotherapy can be difficult for patients to deal with.

Although chemotherapy might be used alone to treat cancer, it is usually combined with other forms of cancer treatment in order to efficiently fight the disease. This overall treatment plan takes into consideration the severity or stage of a patient’s condition, the goal of treatment and how a person responds to certain types of treatment. Other forms of cancer treatment that might accompany chemotherapy include biological therapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, which is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, which is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.
In addition to injection, chemotherapy treatments may be administered orally or intravenously.
In addition to injection, chemotherapy treatments may be administered orally or intravenously.

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