Intraveneous chemotherapy, also called chemotherapy infusions, delivers the medication into a vein, which circulates the anti-cancer drugs throughout the body. Administering cancer chemo drugs is most commonly done intravenously.
Intravenous chemotherapy is commonly administered through an IV. With an IV, chemotherapy medication is delivered through a small needle that is inserted in a vein -- usually in your hand or arm -- but other veins may be used. After the medication is administered, the IV needle is removed. The process of administering the medication through an IV can take a few minutes to a few hours.
Small amounts of chemo drugs may be given through a single injection. The injections is given using the same type of syringe that is used to give vaccinations and other shots in your doctor's office. The injection may be administered in a muscle or fatty area in your arm, leg, hip, or abdomen.
Other ways of administering chemotherapy drugs intravenously are through a catheter, PICC line or Port-a-cath (also known as a Mediport). The catheter, PICC line or Port-a-cath is inserted into a vein through an outpatient procedure and remains in place for weeks or even years, depending on the treatment plan and type of catheter or line used. Catheters and PICC lines are useful for continued chemotherapy treatments over an extended time period. Sometimes a pump is hooked up to a catheter to allow the chemotherapy medication to be delivered slowly over a period of days in a home setting.
An advantage to lines or catheters such as the the Port-a-cath, is that they are connected to the vein. The medication is inserted into the catheter or line, instead of the vein, eliminating the need to repeatedly puncture the vein with continued treatments.