Chemotherapy pumps

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

Chemotherapy pumps are also called infusion pumps.

When you have chemotherapy through a central line (for example 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 chemotherapy, you’ll have it through a pump attached to a drip stand. The drip stand is on wheels and the pump works on a battery 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 intravenous (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 chemotherapy nurse or a district nurse may be able to change it at home.

CADD Pump 

This stands for Computerised Ambulatory Delivery Device. The pump is attached to a cassette or infusion bag that contains the chemotherapy or other medication. This then fits inside a bag that can be worn like a ruck sack or bag around your waist. The pump is programmed by the nurse, so that it delivers the correct dose of chemotherapy at the right time, as prescribed by the doctor. 

The CADD pump allows you to have the treatment at home or in the Ambulatory flat situated near the hospital. These are hotel style rooms that some hospitals have access to. 

Looking after the pump

Your nurse will show you or a family member how to look after the pump. Contact your chemotherapy nurse at the hospital or day 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 chemotherapy. Once your questions are answered, you might feel better about it.

This page is due for review. We will update this as soon as possible.

  • Standards for infusion therapy (4th edition)

    Royal College of Nursing 2016

  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (11th edition)
    V T De Vita, S Hellman and S A Rosenberg 
    Wolters Kluwer, 2019

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

  • The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures (10th edition)
    S Lister and others
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2020

Last reviewed: 
01 Jul 2020
Next review due: 
01 Jul 2023

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