The Cancer Center of Kansas specializes in the treatment of all types of cancer and blood disorders. Once your diagnosis has been established, your oncology team will create a treatment regimen specifically for you. Your treatment team works together to promote optimum healthcare and positive outcomes. Our nurses are highly trained, and many are board certified in oncology (requiring expertise in oncology, immunology, pharmacology, community health and critical care).
Our staff is committed to providing you with the best possible care. The success of your treatment begins with knowing you can do this! Knowledge of how chemotherapy works relieves many fears you might have, and helps to alleviate possible side effects. We have developed this page to give you the information you will need to get started on the road back to good health.
Treatment hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 5:00 p.m.
You will receive a treatment schedule in the mail 3-5 days after seeing the doctor. It will include all appointments up to and including your next doctor visit and treatment. Please note that you may be given appointment times for different services all in the same day (e.g. lab appointment and treatment or office visit). If lab is necessary before your treatment, it will be indicated on your appointment print out. There is a one-hour interval scheduled between lab and all visits requiring the lab results. If no lab is required before your treatment, your medications will be prepared and ready for your scheduled appointment time.
Not all chemotherapy drugs cause nausea. If your treatment has the potential to cause this symptom, you will receive IV medications before your treatment to prevent nausea. If your treatment has the potential to cause nausea after you go home, the doctor will prescribe a medication for you to have available at home. The nurse will call in this prescription to your pharmacy. Do not wait until you experience symptoms of nausea to get your prescription filled. Take the medication as directed on the bottle at the first signs of nausea.
If you are still experiencing nausea or vomiting 24 hours after taking these medications, notify the physician or his nurse. It is advisable on the day you get your chemotherapy that you avoid eating a large meal before or after treatment. Eating small amounts frequently (every 2 hours) may help alleviate symptoms of nausea.
Some patients may receive a medication called Dexamethasone along with other nausea medication before the chemotherapy treatment. It works along with the nausea medication to increase appetite and decrease nausea. Not all patients will receive this drug. Dexamethasone can also make some people feel nervous or jittery, elevate blood sugars, or cause difficulty sleeping. Feeling nervous or anxious can increase the symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Your doctor may prescribe a drug called Ativan or Lorazepam to help you relax. It may help to take Ativan 1 or 2 mg before bed on the night of your treatment, and every 6 hours after, for 24 hours, only as needed.
If you are experiencing diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, or watery stools, you may take Imodium AD two tablets. Repeat with one tablet after every loose stool, up to eight tablets per day. Dehydration can occur if the diarrhea is not controlled. Notify your physician if you are having diarrhea uncontrolled by the medication for longer than 24 hours.
Some chemotherapy medications, as well as pain medications, can cause constipation. To prevent constipation, we recommend taking Senokot-S, or Peri-Colace, two tablets at bedtime. This may be increased to two tablets morning and night if no improvement.
Senokot-S and Peri-Colace can be purchased at any grocery or drug store. If you go longer than two days without a bowel movement, take Milk of Magnesia 30 cc, or a laxative that works for you, every 6 hours until you have results. Do not take enemas or use suppositories if your blood counts are low. Constipation can be a serious problem if left untreated.
We may also administer a medication, called a colony stimulating factor, which can raise your body temperature as it works to stimulate your immune system. This is perfectly normal and indicates the medication is working. However, if you get a temperature of 101.5 or above, please notify your physician.
Your weekly blood counts will help determine if your white blood cell count is going down or if it is low. The nurse will phone you if your counts are low enough to require medications to help your count return to normal. A fever (101.5 or above), or a shaking chill can be a sign of infection if it occurs when your blood counts are low. Call your doctor if you have a fever during this time.
If your temperature is less than 101.5, you may take Tylenol 1000 mg every 4 hours as needed for comfort.
If your mouth or gums become sore, please let your doctor or nurse know. This could be a side effect of the chemotherapy, or an infection. You may need an antibiotic or antifungal agent, depending on your symptoms. It can also be an indication that we need to alter the dose of your chemotherapy. There are several prescription medications available to ease the pain associated with these infections.
To help prevent sore mouth, rinse with a solution of 8 oz. of water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Rinse, gargle and repeat 4 times a day.
Feeling good and looking good go hand-in-hand. It is no different for cancer patients. Personal appearance can play an important role in a positive approach in your diagnosis.
We recognize that some patients are faced with challenges which go beyond personal hygiene and good grooming, especially those who experience appearance-related side effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
For patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments, hair loss is a possible side effect. While the loss of hair is usually only temporary, once chemotherapy ends, hair growth usually returns. It can begin to return as soon as two or three weeks after ending treatment.
During the interim, you may choose to wear a wig, cap, scarf or turban. Selection of a wig or hairpiece should occur prior to hair loss so that the wig conforms to your natural hair color and usual hairstyle.
Reimbursement for Wigs
Some health insurance policies reimburse for wigs. Please check with your insurance company concerning its policy. The resources patients have recommended are:
- Victory in the Valley – Free wigs, turbans, care of wigs & facials – (316) 682-7400
- American Cancer Society – Free donated wigs – (316) 265-3400
- Look Good/Feel Better Program – Care of wigs – (316) 265-3400
While most patients have experienced surgery prior to treatment at the Cancer Center, patients who have undergone mastectomies face special challenges in maintaining their personal appearance. Early post-mastectomy patients may be in need of a breast prosthesis. Mastectomy bras are available through several retail stores, such as Sears and J.C. Penney. Further information can be obtained through:
- American Cancer Society – (316) 265-3400
- Aleta’s Bras & Lingerie – (316) 682-0132
- Feminine Fashions – (316) 681-1842
- Total HomeCare – (316) 264-9797
- Jodee Breast Forms, bras, professional fitters,prosthesis reimbursement – (800) 759-0501
Look Good/Feel Better
Look Good/Feel Better is a program that helps cancer patients improve their appearance and self-image by teaching them hands-on beauty techniques that overcome the appearance-related side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
It is completely free of charge. Every patient may receive one demonstration, in either a group or individual session. Volunteer cosmetologists are certified by the National Cosmetology Association. Call the American Cancer Society to reserve your seat – (316) 265-3400.