Most chemotherapy drugs are given as a course of up to ten sessions (cycles) of treatment. This will depend on the type of drug you are having. At each treatment session you will be given the chemotherapy drug through a drip (infusion). This involves running a liquid containing the drug through a fine tube (cannula) into a vein in your arm. This allows the drug to enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
You will have treatment every three or four weeks. A treatment of docetaxel takes about one hour (this may differ from other chemotherapy drugs). If your blood count is not high enough to cope with a cycle of treatment your doctor may decide to reduce your dose of chemotherapy or delay the cycle. Once your blood count returns to normal you can continue with your treatment.
Your doctor may give you steroid tablets such as prednisolone, as part of your chemotherapy treatment. Your doctor will give you more information about when to take these tablets.
At your first appointment you will be given phone numbers of who to contact if you have any questions about your treatment. This should include someone you can contact after normal hours. Be sure to call if you have any concerns, even if you think they are not very important, and especially if you have persistent or severe side effects.
It is perfectly safe to be around other people, including children and pregnant women, when you are having chemotherapy, but you will need to try to avoid contact with people who have infections. This is because your ability to fight infections (your immunity) is not as strong as usual during each chemotherapy cycle. You are most at risk between seven and 14 days after your treatment. Some men choose to avoid very crowded areas during this time to help reduce the risk of getting an infection.
If at any time, you think that you may have a fever or infection it is important to contact the hospital immediately for advice. You can call any time of the day or night and should not wait to see if you feel better. It may be useful to have a thermometer at home to check your temperature. If you do not feel well take your temperature and call the hospital straight away.
You should not have any immunisations with live vaccines during your chemotherapy or for six months after, but it is safe to be around others who have had these types of vaccines. Other immunisations such as the flu jab are safe, but may not give you as much protection as usual. This is because your white blood cells may be low due to your treatment. It is always best to check with your doctor or nurse before having any vaccination.