Having chemotherapy FAQs

Where will I have chemotherapy treatment?

Most Peter Mac chemotherapy patients will receive their treatment in Day Therapy as same-day patients, that is, you will not stay overnight at the hospital. Some chemotherapy treatments require more extended monitoring or take longer to administer and patients may need to receive their treatment as inpatients and stay at the hospital.

Day Therapy is on level 3 at Peter Mac’s Melbourne site. When you arrive at Peter Mac you can go directly to Day Therapy. The receptionist will greet you and our administrative staff will help you complete your admission details. On your treatment days, you may have to take a seat in our reception area until your treating nurse comes to collect you for your treatment.

Day Therapy is made up of shared areas so you will be in a room with other patients having chemotherapy. The shared areas are more lively and generally help the time pass while your treatment is underway.

You are very welcome to bring a family member, friend or carer with you to keep you company. We ask that only one person accompanies you as space is limited. You may also want to bring a book, music (with earphones), a laptop or some craftwork to keep you occupied.

Your first chemotherapy visit

Before you commence your treatment, you will have an appointment with one of the specialist chemotherapy nurses and a pharmacist in Day Therapy. At this time the nurse will discuss the details of your treatment with you and you will be given the opportunity to ask questions about your treatment. If you have not had chemotherapy in the past five years, you will be given "ChemoEd". ChemoEd is a one-on-one session between you and a nurse. Your chemo nurse will tell you all you need to know about your treatment so you can get a better understanding of what chemotherapy is and how it works. It also teaches you the best ways to manage the common side effects of chemo. You can also ask friends, family or your carer to take part. This appointment will occur two or three days before your first chemotherapy treatment.

A day or so after your first treatment, you will receive a phone call from one of the specialist nursing staff to check on how you are progressing after your treatment. If you have been requested to have blood tests before your chemotherapy treatment begins, we recommend that you do this the day before your first chemotherapy appointment. If you didn't have your blood test at Peter Mac, please bring your test results with you to your appointment or let the nurse know which pathology provider you attended.

Your chemotherapy appointments will generally take around one to seven hours depending on the treatment you have been prescribed. There may be a waiting period while your chemotherapy drugs are prepared for your treatment. We recommend you bring a friend or family member for company or something to occupy you while you wait.

Can I have breakfast before I come?

Yes, eat your usual breakfast. Unless your doctor has advised you otherwise, you should also take your usual medication.

What should I wear?

We advise you to wear comfortable clothes with loose sleeves, as the nursing staff may need to take a blood test or put an intravenous (IV) drip into your arm to administer your treatment. To reduce your risk of falls in Chemotherapy Day Unit we recommend that you wear low heeled, non-slip shoes.

What should I bring with me?

As some chemotherapy can take a few hours, bring a friend for company, something to read, movies to watch or music to listen to. Portable CD and DVD players and movies are available on request. We provide morning tea, a light lunch, and afternoon tea (you can bring along your own food if you prefer). It would also be helpful to bring a list of any medications or over-the-counter preparations you may already be taking.

Am I allowed to drive after my treatment?

We recommend that you arrange for someone to drive you to and from your first appointment. Depending on the medications in your treatment, you may be able to drive for subsequent visits.

Will chemotherapy treatment be painful?

In most cases the treatment is no more painful than any other injection. You may experience a cool sensation when the chemotherapy is going into your vein. If it becomes painful, please let your nurse know immediately. After one or more treatments, an area close to the injection site may become sore. If so, please let your team know and they can avoid that area when putting in a drip for your next chemotherapy cycle.

What is multidisciplinary care?

During your chemotherapy treatment you will be cared for by a multi-disciplinary team, which is a team of experts who plan the best treatment for you. They will work closely together to ensure you receive the best available treatment. Your team may consist of:

  • medical oncologists or haematologist
  • specialist nurse coordinators or practitioners
  • other doctors who are undertaking specialist training and research in medical oncology and haematology
  • specialist chemotherapy nurses
  • pharmacists
  • allied health professionals such as dieticians, physiotherapists, social workers, clinical psychologists
  • pastoral carer.

Feel free to ask your team any questions. Let them know if you have any concerns about your treatment and how you are feeling.

Who can I call for help?

You can speak to medical or nursing staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Peter Mac.

Monday to Friday, between 8 am and 6 pm, call: Day Therapy on (03) 8559 5330

Outside these hours (evenings, weekends and public holidays), call: (03) 8559 5000 and ask for the Patient Services Manager

Please have your hospital UR number ready when you call the hospital.

Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and staffed by experienced cancer nurses who can support those affected by cancer, their carers and loved ones by providing emotional and practical support.

When to contact the hospital urgently

If you have any of the following symptoms following treatment please contact Peter Mac straight away on (03) 8559 5000:

  • a temperature over 38˚C or fever and chills (these might indicate an infection)
  • diarrhoea that continues over 24 hours, particularly if watery
  • persistent vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours or nausea lasting more than 48 hours despite taking antinausea
  • any abnormal bruising and bleeding
  • constipation: if you have not opened your bowels for more than two days
  • a cough or shortness of breath
  • a sudden decline in your health.
  • Any changes in mood including feeling withdrawn, depressed or anxious


Day Therapy

Level 3, 3C Day Therapy

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

305 Grattan Street

Melbourne VIC 3000


Day Therapy

Phone: 03 8559 5330