Tubes or drains may be used during or after cancer treatment. Not everyone will need a tube or drain. If you do, your cancer care team will teach you how to care for it.
Some common tubes and drains used in cancer treatment are:
You may be given oxygen if your levels are low. Oxygen can be given through a tube placed under the nose (called a nasal cannula) or a mask that goes over the mouth and nose. Tubing connects the cannula or mask to an oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator. Ask your cancer care team if you need oxygen equipment that you can travel with.
It’s important to follow the oxygen safety instructions. Make sure you know how to care for the tank and other equipment.
Never let anyone smoke or use fire, including candles and gas stoves, in areas where oxygen is being used.
Liquid nourishment (food or feedings) or medicine may be given through a tube placed in the stomach or the small intestine (bowel). They are often called tube feedings.
These tubes can be used to give feedings, medicines, and fluids. They can be helpful if you can’t swallow, eat, or drink.
If you are going home with tubes or other equipment, your cancer care team will teach you how to care for them and what problems to watch for.
Tubes may be used to remove extra fluids from the body after surgery or procedure or from the cancer. They may also be called drains.
Tubes and drains used in cancer treatment may be placed:
If you are going home with any drains or tubes, your cancer care team will teach you how to care for them and what problems to watch for.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Difficulty swallowing or dysphagia. Accessed at https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-and-social-effects-cancer/managing-physical-side-effects/difficulty-swallowing-or-dysphagia on June 2, 2019.
National Cancer Institute (NCI). Nutrition in cancer care. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/appetite-loss/nutrition-pdq#_312 on March 20, 2020.
Shelton BK. Pulmonary toxicities. In Olsen MM, LeFebvre, KB, & Brassil KJ., eds. Chemotherapy, biotherapy, and immunotherapy guidelines and recommendations for practice. Pittsburgh, PA: Oncology Nursing Society; 2019:401-443.
Last Revised: January 17, 2023