Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells that may have spread from the breast to other parts of the body and reduces the chance of cancer growing again. In early stage breast cancer, chemotherapy may also be given prior to surgery to help shrink the tumour and allow for easier removal of the tumour in the breast. 

Chemotherapy may consist of one or more medications that are given either by injection with an IV or orally by a pill. A number of different side effects can be caused by chemotherapy. People can have different side effects even with the same chemotherapy treatment. It is important that you tell your care team about any side effects you are experiencing, so that we can address them and/or minimize these side effects.

Your chemotherapy treatment will take place in the Baruch/Weisz Cancer Centre at North York General Hospital on the 8th floor. Before your chemotherapy treatment, you will be asked to attend a new patient orientation in the Nanji Academic Centre (ground floor). This orientation will prepare you for treatment, introduce you to your interprofessional team and give you an opportunity to ask questions. 

Preparing for your chemotherapy treatment

What to expect

  • You will receive education on your first visit to the oncology clinic from the oncology pharmacist/nurse. A folder containing useful information will be given to you at the new patient orientation session.
  • You may be asked to start pre-chemotherapy medications the day before your first chemotherapy treatment.
  • You will need to have blood drawn in the lab on the 4th floor the day prior to chemotherapy.
  • You will need to register at the chemotherapy clinic when you arrive for your treatment.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time.
  • The length of your visit for chemotherapy will vary depending on the treatment you will be receiving.

What you need to bring

  • Your health card
  • Anti-nausea medications that your medical oncologist has prescribed
  • Food/beverages
  • Books or other entertainment while you wait or are receiving chemotherapy

Questions for your medical oncologist

  • How will my chemotherapy help me?
  • What are the benefits and risks involved with the specific chemo medications I am receiving?
  • What are some of the side effects and how are they managed?
  • How would the treatment affect my daily activities or work schedules?
  • Are there any special instructions I should follow before, during, and after the chemotherapy treatments?
  • Do I need any vaccinations before my chemotherapy treatment?

Please contact your medical oncologist if you have any questions or concerns regarding treatment.

At North York General, your health care team helps you adapt to all the changes chemotherapy may bring your way. 

Learn more about chemotherapy from:

Learn more chemotherapy side effects from: