Chemotherapy - risk of infection



Chemotherapy makes patients more susceptible to infection (this is known as neutropenia).

An emergency helpline is given to all patients needing advice if they might be suffering infection whilst on chemotherapy.

Early treatment with antibiotics can prevent potentially life-threatening infections so it is essential to notify the chemotherapy team if you suffer any of the following:

  • Temperature of 38 degrees or more
  • Chills and shivering

Symptoms of an infection:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Wound infections
  • A burning sensation when passing water
  • Diarrhoea

Some chemotherapy drugs reduce the number of blood cells made in the bone marrow. Patients receiving these drugs will be given an injection the day after each treatment to stimulate their immune system and reduce the risk of infection.

Prompt treatment of infection with antibiotics is very effective but delayed treatment can lead to life-threatening complications. If in doubt, please contact the emergency helpline (given to all patients before treatment starts).

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