What Is a Chemotherapy Pump and How Is It Used?

IV line pumps that administer cancer-fighting medications help guarantee that you get the right dose at the right time. Both the home and the hospital use them.

Chemotherapy is a popular cancer treatment that targets the body's rapidly proliferating cancer cells with strong medications. The two most popular forms of chemotherapy are intravenous (IV) infusions and oral medicines.

Chemotherapy pumps aid in ensuring the safe and efficient IV administration of chemotherapy medications.

What is a chemotherapy pump?

An IV line is attached to a chemotherapy pump, a sort of infusion pump, which helps administer chemotherapy medications into your bloodstream in a controlled manner.

Chemotherapy pumps aid in ensuring that the appropriate amount of chemotherapy medications are administered through IV lines at the appropriate rate or speed.

How does a chemotherapy pump work?

A chemotherapy pump functions by injecting a fixed dosage of medication at a predefined pace into an IV line, typically placed in the patient's arm or chest.

The rate at which chemotherapy drugs are administered to you via a pump is intended to protect your body and veins while also making sure that any side effects may be controlled. When you take chemotherapy for the first time, the dosage is typically lower than usual to give your body time to adjust. Your treatment nurses can support you if your body reacts negatively.

Although chemotherapy is usually given in a hospital, you might be able to utilise an ambulatory (portable) chemotherapy pump at home if you need to receive the medications over a day or longer.


A hospital's chemotherapy pump is usually battery-operated and mounted on a transportable drip station. The stand is mobile and features a tall pole to support the bag of chemotherapy medications. This makes it possible for the patient to move around during the chemotherapy session.

A nurse or other medical practitioner will set the pump to the right pressure for your treatment session before you begin taking the medications. Drug delivery rates and dosages can change from one session to the next.


A smaller pump is used at home and is portable, fitting into a bag, backpack, or belt holster. Known as continuous-pressure pumps, these devices operate without the need for batteries. The chemotherapy medications are contained in the pumps themselves and are released gradually, maybe over up to four or five days, if needed.

What are the most common types of chemotherapy pumps?

Chemotherapy pumps are in two primary varieties: electronic and continuous pressure pumps.

Electric pumps

The majority of pumps found in hospitals and other therapeutic settings are electronic devices connected to IV drip lines. Smart pump technology, which lowers the possibility of dosing and rate errors by combining computer technology with electronic medicine libraries, has been implemented by more facilities in recent years.

According to a 2023 study, smart pump technology is improving safety and might soon be accessible for residential use.

Continuous pumps

Gravity is not a factor for the smaller continuous-pressure pumps. Rather, the pumps are equipped with a balloon-shaped apparatus that holds chemotherapy drugs. The medications are forced into the IV line by the balloon's constant contraction; the line also has a flow restrictor to guarantee that only the precise amount of medication is released.

How long do you usually wear a chemotherapy pump?

Every treatment session shouldn't require you to use a chemotherapy pump for longer than a few days. In certain situations, you might have to continue it for an additional day or two while receiving radiation therapy in the hospital.

Keep in mind that the specifics of your chemotherapy treatment depend on the kind of cancer you have and its stage at the moment. Future sessions will be tailored based on how your cancer is reacting to current chemotherapy and how you responded to earlier treatment.

What is a chemotherapy pump used to treat?

Chemotherapy pumps can be used for almost every kind of cancer that is being treated with chemotherapy. According to the American Cancer Society, a partial list of tumours that can be treated using a chemotherapy pump consists of:
  • brain cancer
  • breast cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • lung cancer
  • lymphoma
  • multiple myeloma
  • ovarian cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • sarcoma
  • endometrial cancer
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • leukaemia
  • liver cancer

What’s the outlook for people who use a chemotherapy pump?

According to a 2021 study, most users of ambulatory home chemotherapy pumps report few issues and complications.

The most important thing is to pay great attention to the cleaning and care instructions and your doctor's advice, reporting any problems right away. If there are any issues with the pump, you might need to visit the hospital or clinic for help, or a nurse could need to come to your house.

Since chemotherapy is used for a variety of tumours and patients at different stages of their disease, it is challenging to determine the general long-term success rate of chemotherapy pumps. On the other hand, those who receive chemotherapy typically have higher survival rates than those who do not.

According to a 2021 study, those with metastatic prostate cancer who received chemotherapy fared considerably better than their counterparts who did not.


A useful medical tool that helps lower mistakes or side effects from an effective cancer treatment is a chemotherapy pump. Chemotherapy must be administered at precisely the proper dose to effectively destroy cancer cells without being overly strong or producing serious adverse effects.

Ask your doctor or an oncology nurse any questions you may have if you or a loved one is scheduled for chemotherapy and you have concerns about the procedures and technologies used. At this already difficult moment in your life, you don't need any more uncertainty.


How does a chemotherapy pump work?

Provides the necessary pressure to infuse the medication at a preset rate

How do you sleep with a chemo infusion pump?

Keep your pump next to your side and above your blankets

Can I shower with a chemo pump?

most patients can just leave the pump outside the shower

Is chemo infusion painful?

You probably won't feel any pain or discomfort when the IV chemotherapy drugs are given.

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