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Local cancer centre vs. Big hospital
12 Posts

Is it wise to have some chemo treatments at the local cancer centre rather than a long drive to a big hospital centre?

7 Replies
207 Posts

@Ekmsmom - Hello!

I had my 6 rounds of chemo at satellite suites away from the main cancer centre. My first 2 treatments were at a satellite suite that was 1.5 hrs from home (the cancer centre was 3.5 hours away). This made my chemo day more of an ordeal, because of the winter travel. Also, my chemo day was pretty well 8:30 to 5:00, so tack on another 3 hours of sitting in the car and it was painful for my back. My last 4 treatments were at a different satellite suite just 25 minutes from home (that cancer centre is 2 hours away - yes, I changed cancer centres midway through treatment).

I felt safe in both small satellites. The first one had a dedicated doctor in the chemo suite. The second one had access to an internist at the hospital. Both satellites were attached by phone and computer to the cancer centre.

I had an allergic reaction to the chemo drug on the first round, so I was watched carefully and pumped full of antihistamine. I will say that the receptionist(!) at the second suite told me that if I had a reaction there, they would stop and I would have to continue at the big cancer centre…I'm pretty sure that wasn't her call to make and it didn't happen because they LOADED me with antihistamine.

If my blood work was questionable, the nurses in the satellite would have to wait for the go-ahead from the oncologist.

Both satellites had great, organized and knowledgeable staff. One had heated blankets available, the other did not. One offered sandwiches and chocolates, the other did not. My satellite did not have a bell to ring after my last treatment(!)…they did get one later. I'm guessing the cancer centre would likely have more volunteers hanging around to make you tea, etc…not sure, but during the height of COVID when I had my chemo, the nurses were run ragged and it was difficult to ask them to boil a kettle for me. One suite had TVs…but they didn't work.

I was able to have my pre-chemo bloodwork and weigh in at the outpatient lab that is in the same hospital as the chemo suite that is 20 min away from home.

I mention those things because I remember the differences in those satellites. I don't know how the cancer centre chemo suite is.

Overall, I was happiest to be closest to home as I could be.
Best of luck to you.


215 Posts

@Sadie12 and @Ekmsmom
really!! Sandwiches and chocolates!!! I got nothing but drugs 😁. ekmsmom, the chance of being offered anything is slim. We obviously are going through this at the wrong end of Covid.

2351 Posts


My chemotherapy was done at a local hospital (with an infusion clinic that included chemo) much closer to my home. It saved me an additional 2 - 3 hours of travel, and was well staffed by RN's and the care was top notch. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to have my treatments much closer to home. I always felt comfortable with my treatments at the satellite hospital. Everyone's experience will be unique, and I consider my experience to have been very positive.


12 Posts

@Ekmsmom Hello, I think what it comes down to is where will you feel most comfortable. Your treatment plan is put together by your oncologist and there will be the same whether you are at a small location or a big hospital.

I had my chemo at a smaller hospital that was still part of the bigger hospital further away. The one time I had to go to the main chemo centre I did notice it wasn't nearly as friendly. I was super happy with a smaller location. You get to know the nurses and they also get to know you. It actually starts to feel nice going to see them, aside from the awful medicine.

If you are worried about reactions and would be more comfortable at a larger hospital perhaps you could take your first dose there instead and then transfer to the smaller location.

I wish you luck in your decision. You'll be done chemo before you know it.

12 Posts


thanks to everyone who replied to my post. Great support appreciated!

Flower lady
23 Posts

I have had all of my chemo treatments done at our local oncology unit in our community hospital , it takes 15 minutes to drive there . I am able to drive myself , we have gotten to know each Other it is more like a visit than a medical procedure the nurses know which chair I prefer and set it up for me . Weird fact my blood pressure is lower going for chemo / treatment than it is going to any other medical appointments.

I am all for the small centres if everything is going ok .

Cynthia Mac
3983 Posts
Ekmsmom‍ I see you’ve already got good responses. My Dad got his treatment in our local cancer centre, and I now know too many people who’ve had to get treatment there, including my best friend who will start chemo and radiation there, after both her son and mother have been treated there.

My thoughts on it are that the technicians and doctors and nurses in the local centres have the same training as the ones in the bigger centres, and - at least in my Dad’s case - they got to know him. As others have pointed out the travel time can be an hour (more) savings each way.

My friend and I have said many, many times, how fortunate we are to have our local facility “in our backyard.”
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