A Guide to Chemotherapy

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Other questions you may have about chemotherapy

What should I eat before my first chemo treatment?

Your chemo can take anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. Make sure you eat something before treatment. Most people find that a light meal or snack an hour or so before chemo works best. If you’ll be there several hours, plan ahead and bring a small meal or snacks in an insulated bag or cooler. Find out if there’s a refrigerator or microwave you can use.

Can I drink alcohol?

Small amounts of alcohol can help you relax and increase your appetite. But alcohol may interact with some drugs so that they don’t work as well, or it may make the side effects worse. Be sure to ask your doctor if you can drink beer, wine, or any other alcoholic beverages.

Should I take vitamin or mineral supplements?

There’s no single answer to this question, but one thing is clear: No diet or nutritional plan can “cure” cancer. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements or any other complementary or alternative medicine should never take the place of medical care. You should not take any supplements without talking to your doctor first.

Please call us or go to the Complementary and Alternative Medicine page of our website to learn more.

What is radiation recall?

If you have had radiation treatments before, you could develop radiation recall. During or shortly after you get certain chemo drugs, the skin over the area that was treated with radiation may turn red – a shade anywhere from light to very bright – and may itch or burn. This is radiation recall, and the reaction may last hours or even days. You can soothe the itching and burning by putting a cool, wet compress over the affected area. Tell your doctor or nurse about any skin irritation or changes.


Last Medical Review: 08/11/2014
Last Revised: 08/24/2014