Image of video titled Preparing for CAR T: Terry and Cheryl’s story.

How can I prepare for CAR T?

CAR T-cell therapy has some unique considerations that may be different from other treatments you've received.

Here are some things to expect, including the support you may get along the way.

Find a medical center offering CAR T-cell therapy

In the US, CAR T isn't offered at every cancer clinic—it's only available at medical centers that have been trained and certified for CAR T . Ask your doctor for a CAR T referral or talk to a CAR T medical center.

Plan how you will get to and from the medical center

You can expect to make more than one trip to your CAR T medical center. You may need to stay nearby during treatment if the medical center isn't close to you.

Ask for help and support

You may need one or more caregivers with you during the CAR T treatment process. It’s especially important to have a full-time caregiver with you for several weeks after your CAR T infusion.

All of this might sound like a lot, but remember that people in different circumstances have been able to receive CAR T-cell therapy.

The team at the CAR T medical center will be there every step of the way. You can also visit the support page for more help.

Ask your doctor or a medical center offering CAR T-cell therapy about CAR T. Starting the conversation may help with planning in the future.

What is the process like?

CAR T-cell therapy is given as an infusion. The entire treatment process can take several weeks, but generally happens once. You, your caregiver, and your healthcare team will make a plan that’s unique to you.

Illustration of patient and caregiver standing in front of oncologist.


Attending your CAR T consult

  • Familiarize yourself with the CAR T medical center— it may be part of a larger hospital or cancer clinic
  • Meet your CAR T treatment team, which includes many different professionals who are there to help you
  • Work with the treatment team to make sure you're eligible for CAR T. This may involve lab tests, health checks, and considering insurance coverage
llustration of patient having their T cells collected at a CAR T medical center.


Collecting your T cells (apheresis)

  • You'll be at the CAR T medical center or apheresis center
  • Your blood, from your arms or a central port, is run through a machine that collects just your T cells
  • The collected T cells will be used in your CAR T treatment
Illustration of T cells being changed into CAR T cells at a specialized facility.


Waiting for your CAR T cells

  • You'll wait at home or near the CAR T medical center
  • Your T cells are shipped to a specialized facility, where they are changed into CAR T cells
  • It takes 2–4 weeks to make your CAR T cells
  • You may need treatment to control your cancer until your CAR T cells are ready

Waiting can be tough, but your healthcare team will let you know when your cells are ready. In the meantime, you can ask your healthcare team about what you can do to stay healthy– physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Illustration of patient receiving their CAR T cells at the CAR T medical center.


Receiving your CAR T cells

  • You'll be at the CAR T medical center
  • You'll receive a low dose of chemotherapy to prepare your body
  • A few days later, you'll receive your CAR T infusion
Illustration of patient and caregiver exchanging smiles with oncologist.


Recovering from treatment

  • You may need to stay at or near the CAR T medical center for at least 4 weeks after infusion
  • Your CAR T care team will be taking care of you and managing any side effects—remember to share how you're feeling

After this period of close monitoring, your follow-up visits to the CAR T medical center may become less regular. Your care may transition back to your local cancer clinic and doctor. While you're getting back to your daily activities, it's normal to continue relying on your caregiver(s) throughout recovery. For example, you should not drive for at least 8 weeks after receiving CAR T.

What are possible side effects?

In addition to helping your immune system fight cancer, CAR T-cell therapy can cause your immune system to act on the rest of your body in unwanted ways.

CAR T side effects will differ depending on the person and the kind of CAR T prescribed.

Cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicities are two of the side effects that patients have experienced and can become life-threatening. Your healthcare team is trained to look for and manage any side effects. Listen to your body and remember to share how you're feeling.

You may feel...

  • feverish (feeling hot or chills)
  • muscle aches, pain
  • tired
  • a loss of appetite

These are some of the symptoms that might be associated with cytokine release syndrome.

You may experience...

  • changes to your mental state
  • confusion
  • difficulty with movement
  • seizures

These are some of the symptoms that might be associated with neurotoxicities, which are caused by reactions in your brain and nervous system.

There are other CAR T side effects—your healthcare team will give you and your caregiver a full list, tell you how to look out for them and answer any questions you may have. If you and your caregiver notice any symptoms, make sure to tell your healthcare team so they can manage them.

What questions might I ask my healthcare team?

  • What are the steps for me to get CAR T?
  • How can I prepare or plan for CAR T?
  • How many times will I have to go to the CAR T medical center?
  • How do CAR T side effects compare to other treatments?