If you need chemotherapy treatment as part of your cancer care, the Cancer Institute has made it easy to find it close to home with 13 facilities across the state.

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Call 855.255.6181 or request a callback for support, advice, or a second opinion.

How Chemotherapy Works

Chemotherapy is a drug or combination of drugs used to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Your doctor will decide the best course of chemotherapy based on your general health, type and location of the cancer and your response to the drugs.

Chemotherapy can be used on its own, but patients usually are prescribed it with surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy.

Depending on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can:

  • Shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation, known as neo-adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Destroy any cancer cells that remain after surgery or radiation, called adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Boost the effect of radiation or immunotherapy
  • Destroy any cancer cells that return in what is called recurrent cancer, or spread to other parts of the body as metastatic cancer

What to Expect During Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy will be administered by one our nurses certified in oncology. Our goal is to create the most comfortable experience possible, offering light meals and a cozy recliner in each private treatment space. You can read, watch TV or listen to music.

How is Chemotherapy Given

Chemotherapy drugs can be given in several ways, including:

  • As an injection in a muscle in your arm, thigh or hip, or right under the skin in the fatty part of your arm, leg or belly
  • Intravenously (IV) into a vein
  • Topically in a cream rubbed onto your skin
  • Orally as a pill, capsule or liquid that you swallow
  • Intra-arterially (IA) into the artery feeding the cancer
  • Intraperitoneally (IP) into the peritoneal cavity, the part of the torso that contains your intestines, stomach, liver and ovaries

Another innovative way to give chemotherapy into the abdomen is called Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). This newer approach is for people with certain types of abdominal cancers, delivered in the operating room by specially-trained oncology surgeons.

Instead of traditional intravenous chemotherapy that circulates through the bloodstream, HIPEC is a warm chemotherapy bath delivered into the abdominal cavity. Higher doses of medication target cancer cells too small to be seen and removed surgically. All patients with Stage IV abdominal cancers are candidates for HIPEC, which is a safe, more effective way to deliver high doses of chemotherapy in just one treatment and with fewer side effects.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

While targeting cancer cells, chemotherapy can damage healthy cells, causing side effects. Not everyone experiences side effects - you may have none, some or many. They can include:

  • Anemia
  • Bleeding
  • Changes in appetite, nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Eye changes
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hair loss
  • Infertility or sexual changes
  • Pain
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Swelling from fluid retention
  • Urinary or bladder changes

We often prescribe other medications with chemotherapy to help control the side effects. If you experience any, talk to a member of your care team. Side effects generally are short-term and go away between treatments or once the treatment is over.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance

We offer the latest treatments through our ongoing membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Alliance, which gives you access to the latest standards of care and clinical trials.

The MSK Alliance

Support at the Cancer Institute

The Cancer Institute offers whatever you and your family need on your journey, whether it’s access to an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator to coordinate your care or the support of our Patient and Family Resource Center.


Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute