Systemic Therapy

woman having systemic therapy

Systemic Therapy is the treatment of cancer using medications. Your systemic therapy treatment may also be called chemotherapy or immunotherapy. You can be given these medications by mouth, by injection or by intravenous (IV). You may be given more than one medication. The treatment you are given is based on the type of cancer you have. Medications may be given to you at the Cancer Centre, at a clinic in the community or for you to take at home. Each person is different. Each cancer and treatment plan can also be different.

Systemic therapy treatment is given in cycles. A cycle has days of treatment and days of rest. Days of rest let your body build new healthy cells and regain strength.

Before you start your treatment, you will be given appointments:

  1. For a group teaching class. At this class, you will be given information on what you can expect as you start treatment.
  2. With a pharmacist. The pharmacist will talk to you about the medications you will receive.  You will be given information about side effects and how you can manage them.

Bring someone with you to these appointments. This allows someone else to hear the information you will be given. 

You will have an appointment to see your healthcare team and have your bloodwork done before every treatment. You will be given your treatment on a different day. This gives our Pharmacy time to get your medications ready. Only one family member or friend can stay with you while you have your treatment. This person must be an adult. Children or pregnant women are not allowed in the Systemic Therapy Suite as it is not safe for them to be there. Talk to your nurse if you have questions about this. Your nurse will talk to you about safety in the Systemic Therapy Suite and at home.

 

Every patient having Systemic Therapy Treatment is given this Fever Card

 

A fever can be a medical emergency when you are having systemic therapy treatment. Take this card with you when you go to the Emergency Department (ED) with a fever.  It is important that you show it to both the ED nurse and the ED doctor. One side of the card tells you when to go to Emergency.  The other side of the card will help the nurse and doctor know how to care for you.

If you are taking an immunotherapy medication, you will be given this Immunotherapy Card.

 

The side effects you have when you are taking an immunotherapy medication can be life threatening. Take this card with you when you go to the Emergency Department (ED).  It is important that you show it to both the nurse and the doctor. One side of the card tells you when to go to the ED. The other side of the card will help the ED doctor know what care and treatment you need.

When you come for your systemic therapy treatments

It is important that you:

  • Arrive on time for your appointment.
  • Bring a supply of the medications you need to take during the time you are in the Systemic Therapy Suite.
  • Drink 2-3 cups (500-750ml) of fluids before your treatment.
  • Bring earphones if you plan to listen to music or watch a video. 
  • Dress in layers or bring a blanket.
  • Bring only one family member or friend with you.
  • Remind your family members/friends not to eat in the Systemic Therapy Suite. Drinks are okay. 
  • Do not bring foods that have a strong smell.
  • Do not use or wear any product that has a perfume or scent. 

To learn more about your systemic therapy treatment, read the Canadian Cancer Society booklet “Chemotherapy and Other Drug Therapies: A Guide for People with Cancer” that was given to you.

Directions

From Hospital Court, enter through the main lobby and continue past the food court to the A-wing hallway, located just passed the lobby escalators. Turn left into the A-wing hallway and continue past the double doors into the first floor of the cancer centre. Please check in at the computer in the waiting room.

From Parkwood Court, the main entrance to the cancer centre is at the set of hospital doors furthest to the east on Parkwood Court. Come through this entrance and check in at the computer in the waiting room.