Continuous Infusion Chemotherapy
This information is intended for the patients, friends and families of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
It has been created to answer many of the questions you may have about your treatment, how to prepare and what it will be like. It also contains suggestions about caring for yourself during treatment.
Chemotherapy that is given slowly over 1 or more days is called continuous infusion chemotherapy. It is given with a pump device that you will carry with you while the chemotherapy is infusing. Pumps are often attached to catheters or ports. They control how much and how fast chemotherapy goes into the catheter or port.
What does a continuous infusion involve?Home Care
Continuous infusion chemotherapy is a home care treatment. You will be followed by the University of Michigan's HomeMed® Program while receiving continuous infusion treatment. The HomeMed® staff arranges for supplies and equipment, checks your insurance coverage and arranges to have your infusion disconnected once it is completed. All of these arrangements must be coordinated before your chemotherapy treatment can begin.
Patients receiving a continuous infusion are taught to care for their pump and will manage and troubleshoot alarms or problems that may occur at home. This may be overwhelming as you are also learning about chemotherapy treatment in general. Our nurse educators in the Cancer Center Skills Lab will work with you and your family; making sure you are comfortable with the pump before your treatment begins.
We have found that patients experience less stress and are better able to care for their pumps and themselves at home if they receive education PRIOR to the day of treatment. We will work with you and your doctor to arrange a teaching session with the cancer nurse educators before the day of treatment. This requires an additional visit for patients who don't have tests or other appointments scheduled before treatment. You will receive a continuous infusion pump training manual at this session. The manual contains information specific to your pump and its alarms and settings, the supplies necessary, changing batteries and when to call for help. The nurse educators will review all of this information with you at the teaching appointment.
There are many steps involved in providing chemotherapy with a pump at home. Arrangements must be made with the home care agency, supplies must be delivered, the pump must be calibrated and the chemotherapy prepared specifically for pump infusion. Each of these steps is complicated and involves different agencies and staff.
We understand that this process is complicated. A U-M Cancer Center continuous infusion coordinator will help you through the process and ensure that it is as efficient as possible. Our coordinator will contact you to review your infusion appointments and will schedule the teaching session as well. You may contact the coordinator at 734-647-8579, Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm.
Where will I receive my chemotherapy pump treatment?If you receive chemotherapy before your pump connection, the HomeMed® nurse will meet you in the infusion area. You will be connected to the pump and the continuous infusion at the end of your chemotherapy treatment.
If you are receiving only a continuous infusion with a pump, the HomeMed® staff may arrange to meet you in the Skills lab. They will connect your pump and begin your infusion in the Skills lab rather than in the cancer infusion area. The Skills Lab is located on level 3 of the Med Inn Building. Take the Med Inn elevators to level 3 and follow the signs to your right.
How long will I be there?Patients who receive continuous infusion chemotherapy will need more time for their appointment. This additional appointment time is used for the following activities:
- learning how to manage the infusion pump at home
- identification and referral to the home care agency that will provide your care in the home
- setting up the infusion pump and verifying it's calibrations and settings
It is best to plan on spending most of the day at the center for your first chemotherapy treatment. Some patients may have their treatment finished in several hours, but this is difficult to predict. Once you have received the first treatment, the staff will be better able to predict how long you should allow for all following treatments.