We are committed to providing the best possible experience for every patient. Your physician has reviewed your medical history and current diagnosis to create a personalized care plan and course of treatment. Typical courses of treatment may include infusion of chemotherapy or biotherapy, surgery and/or radiation therapy. Browse the information below for details on your next steps, or click here to learn more.
For more information on what to expect at The Breast Center at CARTI, please click here.
If your physician has chosen infusion therapy as your course of treatment, here is helpful information to prepare you for your first treatment.
The most commonly used infusion therapy is chemotherapy – often referred to simply as ‘chemo’ – which is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemo works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. Sometimes chemotherapy is used as the only cancer treatment, but, more often, you will get chemotherapy along with surgery, radiation therapy or biological therapy.
What to Expect During Your Infusion Therapy
Most infusion therapy treatments are delivered in our onsite infusion suites. While the physical spaces may vary between our multiple infusion facilities, the experience is the same for all of our patients.
Preparing for Your Treatment
Before your first day of treatment, a nurse will provide information to you and your family that is specific to your treatment, so you will know what side effects to expect. You will also be given printed information to take home with you. On the first day of treatment, your nurse will have you sign your informed consent giving CARTI permission to proceed with your prescribed treatment, print your orders, look at your lab results and send the orders to our pharmacy where your personalized course of medication is mixed.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
- Lab: Before every visit, you will go to the lab to get blood drawn to confirm that you are able to receive your treatment. If you are receiving treatment for several days in a row, you will likely only go to the lab before your first treatment.
- Infusion Suite: When you arrive at the infusion suite, you will be greeted by a front office representative who will check you in. While family members may remain with you while our team explains your treatment, only one family member can stay with you during your treatment. We ask that you not bring children under the age of 13 to your appointments, as some of our patients are at a greater risk of infection.
Receiving Your Treatment
- Intravenous Chemotherapy: Most of the infusion medications are given intravenously, so you will have an IV started. If you have a port, the nurse will use this to draw your blood and deliver your medicine. You will receive what we refer to as “pre-meds”, which are mediations we give before treatment to help alleviate side effects. After you receive your pre-meds, your chemo will be delivered and we will begin the actual chemotherapy treatment. Because different drug regimens require different amounts of time to infuse, you may not know how long your treatment will actually take until the nurse reviews your orders when you get to the infusion suite.
- Oral Chemotherapy: Some patients will be given oral chemotherapy. In this case, you will be given a prescription and the nurse or physician will discuss with you how to have the prescription filled.
What to Bring to Your Treatment
Our goal is to help you feel as comfortable as possible while you are here. Feel free to bring food and drinks, a blanket, and something to read to pass the time. All CARTI facilities have free Wi-Fi, so feel free to bring your wireless devices and earphones. If you use any routine medications or pain medication, please bring those with you as well.
If your physician has chosen radiation therapy as your course of treatment, here is helpful information to prepare you for your first treatment.
Radiation is a special kind of energy carried by waves or a stream of particles. It can come from special machines or from radioactive substances. Special equipment is used to aim the radiation at tumors or areas of the body where there is disease. Your course of radiation therapy has been designed by your physician especially for you. Your treatment areas and the technology used have been selected as the best choices for your specific diagnosis.
What to Expect During Your Radiation Therapy
Radiation treatments are very similar to having an X-ray. The actual treatment causes no pain or discomfort. For each external beam radiation treatment session, the patient will be in the treatment room for about 15 to 30 minutes, but will be receiving the dose of radiation for only about one to five minutes of that time. The sound you may hear during your treatment is simply the operating noise of the machine.
Marking Your Skin For Treatment
- Your skin will be marked so that your treatment area can be efficiently reproduced daily. The marks will wear off one to two weeks after you have completed your treatments.
- These marks must stay on during your entire treatment, so it is important that you do not try to wash or scrub the marks.
- The ink may rub off on your clothing, so it is recommended that you do not wear good clothing close to the treated area.
- If your treatment lines begin to fade, do not re-mark them yourself. Your therapist will need to remark them as needed.
- If your skin is sensitive, please tell your radiation therapist.
Caring for Your Skin
- Keep the treated area clean and dry. When bathing, cleanse the treated skin with mild soap, being careful not to remove your marks. Use warm water and then pat the skin dry.
- Avoid vigorous rubbing or massaging of skin in the treated area.
- Avoid shaving with a razor blade in the treated area; an electric razor may be used.
- Do not use perfumes, cosmetics, creams, lotions or deodorants in the treated area. These products often contain metals which may cause skin irritation.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing which can rub, press against or irritate the skin. Underwire bras or those that are very tight and constricting are not recommended. Cotton T-shirts may be more comfortable.
- Avoid exposure of the treated skin to excessive temperatures. This includes heating pads, heat or sun lamps, hot water bottles or ice packs.
- Avoid sun exposure to the treated skin while you are receiving radiation. Once you have completed therapy, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 45 or higher to protect your skin. Apply the sunscreen one hour before going out into the sun and then once every four hours. You may also avoid sun exposure; please discuss this with your physician.
Changes to Your Skin
- During the course of treatment, the area of skin exposed to the radiation may become dry, itchy or red. Usually these reactions are temporary and subside within a few weeks after the completion of therapy.
- Some patients develop a “tanned” reaction, which might take months to clear.
- If the skin in the treated area begins to itch or cause discomfort, discuss the problem with your physician. Your physician may prescribe a cream or ointment for skin reactions. This will need to be washed off prior to your treatment.
- If you are planning to start a family, please discuss pregnancy with your physician prior to receiving radiation therapy.
- During radiation therapy treatments, continue to take all routine and/or previously prescribed medications.