Special Considerations

Chemotherapy is finicky stuff. Each preparation requires different standards. The following are just a few examples of the considerations Cancer Center pharmacists keep in mind when making their drugs.
  • How long will the drug stay stable? Any pharmaceutical that expires after eight hours are put on a short list to remind nurses during the daily huddle that time is of the essence.
  • How quickly will a drug dissolve? Some drugs take hours to mix.
  • Fresh or frozen? Some drugs, like the one in Barbara Friesen's case, must be thawed before they can be used.
  • How much can we waste? In the interest of efficiency, the Cancer Center will sometimes prepare chemotherapy ahead of time if the drug is not part of a clinical trial and it is relatively inexpensive.

Clinic Bound

OK, so chemotherapy is a complicated process, but what's going on in those doctors' offices that's slowing everything down? According to Cancer Center nurse supervisor Carol McMahon, clinic schedules get thrown off when patients have unexpected complications. When someone with cancer is sick or needs explanations about their options, maintaining a rigid schedule becomes secondary priority.

"Patients can be assured, though, that for the times you have extended waits, you will also be getting that kind of attention at some point in your treatment," McMahon said.

See Also

In the Fall, 2007 issue of Thrive was a story taking a look behind the scenes at the Cancer Center (specifically following a patient during her visit for chemotherapy treatment). You can view it here.

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Cancer AnswerLine:  800-865-1125