Medical Onoclogy FAQs


What can chemotherapy achieve?

Some kinds of cancer can actually be cured with chemotherapy. Many others can be put in remission, which means shrunken partially and prevented from growing for a period of time. When the tumor shrinks so much that it cannot be detected by examination and x-rays, it is called a “complete remission.” A complete remission does not necessarily mean cure.

How long will treatments last?

There are few hard and fast rules on how often chemotherapy is given, as every tumor is different. Every chemotherapy treatment is tailored to fit your disease. Many kinds of chemotherapy are given every three weeks, but sometimes a better result can come from smaller doses every week. Your physician will discuss these options with you before starting treatment.

Who administers chemotherapy?

At Guthrie, chemotherapy is administered by nurses who are trained by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) in chemotherapy and biotherapy.

When will we know if the chemotherapy is working?

Your physician will outline a treatment plan with you and will do follow up tests (ex: CT scan, x-ray, MRI, PET-CT) at different intervals during your therapy. This will vary from patient to patient.

Will chemotherapy make me sick?

Nausea can be an uncomfortable side effect of chemotherapy. However, newer anti-nausea drugs have been developed that greatly minimize nausea and vomiting. Also, not all types of chemotherapy cause nausea and vomiting. Your physician will choose the most effective anti-nausea medication according to the type of chemotherapy you receive.

Will I lose my hair?

Hair loss is a temporary side effect of some chemotherapy agents. Your physician will discuss this and other side effects with you. If your chemotherapy causes hair loss or hair thinning, this usually happens about two weeks after you begin treatment.

What can I do about my hair loss?

You can obtain wigs/turbans from many sources. Your nurse or navigator will provide you with a list of resources.

What can I do about loss of appetite?

Loss of appetite is a normal side effect of chemotherapy and sometimes is the result of your disease. Chemotherapy may cause your favorite foods to become tasteless or even disliked. It is recommended to make every effort to eat balanced meals on a regular basis even when you prefer not to eat or do not feel hungry.

What do I do for fatigue and weakness?

Fatigue and weakness are common side effects of chemotherapy or the cancer itself. Try to continue to eat balanced meals and get plenty of rest. Try to pace yourself while maintaining your normal activities. Allow yourself time to rest. Inform your doctor or nurse if the fatigue persists or worsens.

Do you offer chemotherapy at a location close to me?

Chemotherapy through Guthrie is done at several locations throughout New York and Pennsylvania, including Corning and Owego in New York and Sayre, Towanda and Wellsboro in Pennsylvania. For your convenience, Guthrie medical oncologists are available for new patient and follow-up visits in many locations, including Big Flats, Corning, Ithaca and Owego in New York and Sayre, Towanda and Wellsboro in Pennsylvania.

Transportation is a problem for me. Are there organizations to help me get to chemotherapy appointments?

Yes. The American Cancer Society (ACS) may be able to help. Depending on where you live, the ACS offers Road to Recovery, a program that provides free transportation for patients to cancer treatments. For information about Road to Recovery, call 1-800-227-2345, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.