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Chemotherapy pumps

Chemotherapy pumps are one of the ways you can have your chemotherapy. They allow you to have chemo in a controlled way. 

Chemotherapy pumps are also called infusion pumps.

When you have chemo through a central line or a PICC line, a nurse can attach a pump. This will give a controlled amount of drugs very slowly into your bloodstream. There are different types of pumps. 

If you’re staying in hospital for chemo, you’ll have it through a pump attached to a drip stand. The drip stand is on wheels so you can walk about with it.

Photograph showing a nurse setting up an IV pump that you have in hospital
A nurse setting up an IV pump in hospital

There are also pumps that you can go home with. Most of these pumps are continuous pressure pumps, which means they don't need a battery. 

This type of pump is quite small. You can carry it in a bag or belt holster, which they'll give you at the hospital.

Photograph showing a continuous pressure pump for chemotherapy
A continuous pressure pump

There are also small battery operated pumps, which you carry around like the continuous pressure pumps. They are sometimes called ambulatory pumps. There are different types and your nurse will show you how to operate yours. 

You might need to have your continuous pressure or battery operated pump changed from time to time. You can go back to hospital for this. Or a home chemo nurse or a district nurse can change it at home.

Looking after the pump

Your nurse will show you or a family member how to look after the pump. Contact your chemo nurse at the hospital or chemotherapy unit if you have any problems or questions when you get home,

Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse if you’re nervous about being at home with the pump and the chemo. Once your questions are answered, you might feel better about it.

Our cancer information nurses will also be happy to give you more information.

Last reviewed: 
06 Jan 2015
  • The Chemotherapy Source Book (4th edition)
    Michael C Perry
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2008

  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (9th edition)
    De Vita VT, Hellman S and Rosenberg SA
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2011.

  • Handbook of Cancer Chemotherapy (8th edition)
    Skeel, R.T. and Khleif, S.N.
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2011

  • The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures (8th edition)
    Dougherty, L. and Lister, S. 
    Wiley-Black, 2011

  • Guidelines for the safe use of cytotoxic chemotherapy in the clinical environment
    Scottish cancer care pharmacy group. Updated 2012

  • Chemotherapy Services in England: Ensuring quality and safety
    National Chemotherapy  Advisory Group (NCAG), 2009

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