What happens before chemotherapy for breast cancer?

A few days before your chemotherapy treatment, you’ll have blood tests. The blood tests tell your oncologist and pharmacist how to tailor your treatment based on your laboratory values and body mass index (BMI). You may receive chemotherapy through a large, sturdy tube called a central venous catheter (CVC). If your healthcare provider recommends a CVC, it will be surgically implanted before treatment. It stays in place until you finish chemotherapy.

Types of CVCs include: Central line: Long, plastic tube inserted near your heart or in a neck vein. Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC): A central line that goes in through an arm vein. Port-a-cath (chemo port): A small, implantable chamber where your nurse gives drug injections.

How long does chemotherapy take for breast cancer? Typically, you receive chemotherapy in cycles. You may receive chemo every week or every two, three or even four weeks. Cycles are usually two to three treatments long. Each cycle includes a rest period to allow your body to recover. For example, you may have the same treatment every Monday for three weeks. Then you have an extra week to recover before repeating the cycle. Many people have multiple treatment cycles in a row. Treatment may last three to six months.

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