Government-issued health care (OHIP card)
Medications that you need to take.
Appointments can take several hours. Bring with you any medications you normally take during the day.
Food and snacks for the day. Please do not bring foods with strong smells because the strong smell can make chemotherapy patients in the unit uncomfortable.
Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) offers rides for patients to and from the hospital. Transportation can be arranged through the CCS.
Learn more about the Canadian Cancer Society transportation service [opens in new window] »
Learn more about what to bring to your appointment »
There are several different steps in your chemotherapy appointment:
For most treatment protocols, you need blood work done before every chemotherapy appointment. This is to make sure it is safe for you to have your chemo. If your blood counts are too high or too low, it may not be safe for you to get your treatment.
Your blood work needs to be done 1 or 2 days before your chemotherapy treatment appointment. You can have your blood work done at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Blood Lab. The lab is located on the main floor, next to the Outpatient Pharmacy.
For your ease, you may also be able to have blood work done at a blood lab close to your home.
Read Know about your Blood Work [PDF, opens in new window] for more information, and speak with your health care team to see if this would work for you.
Your doctor orders chemotherapy for you based on your treatment plan. For each treatment appointment your health care team will review your blood test results and make sure they are good enough for the treatment.
Preparing the Drugs
After your doctor orders your treatment, the order will be reviewed by a chemotherapy nurse to make sure the order is complete.
The pharmacist reviews the order and enters it into the computer system. A technician then gathers the materials needed to make your chemotherapy.
Preparing your chemotherapy order can take a while. The technicians must make sure that they prepare your chemotherapy accurately, exactly as the doctor ordered. They must also make sure that it is sterile and that no bacteria get into the treatment. Making accurate and sterile chemotherapy orders takes time, between 1 - 2 hours.
After the chemotherapy has been prepared, the pharmacist checks it and compares it to the order to make sure it is correct.
When it is time for your appointment, go to the reception desk in the Systemic Therapy Unit and take a number from our ticket machine. Wait in the waiting room for your number to be called; make sure you have your OHIP card ready. When you are called you will be given a hospital ID bracelet and a pager.
When you check in, tell the patient flow coordinator if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Mouth sores
- History of falls
- If you use a mobility device
You may need to see a nurse before you start your next treatment.
Your doctor will let you know if you need to take any medications before your chemotherapy treatment. If you do, ask the Patient Flow Coordinator what time you should take them.
Hand Washing and Infection Prevention
It is important to wash your hands well and often while you are in the hospital. Washing your hands will reduce the chances that you will become sick or get an infection.
It's okay to ask your doctor, nurse and other health care providers to wash or sanitize their hands using a gel hand sanitizer before examining you.
During flu season, you may be asked to wear a mask.
You can learn more about infection control at UHN »
Your chemotherapy appointment may last for most of the day. The different stages of your appointment can each last several hours.
Blood work: Getting results takes 1 to 3 hours, depending on what type of blood test needs to be done.
Ordering chemotherapy: It takes about half an hour to check the order.
Pharmacy: If your treatment order is written on the day you are being treated, it takes about 1 - 2 hour to prepare the order and check it again. Some clinical trials may take about 3 hours to prepare. If your treatment order is written the day before you are being treated, the pharmacy will prepare your order the day before.
Treatment: This lasts between 30 minutes and 8 hours.