Medical Oncology

Medical oncology involves the use of chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapies to destroy cancer cells that have spread throughout the body from the original site or tumor.

Our Medical Oncologists are experienced, knowledgeable about the latest techniques and drugs, active in research and dedicated to helping patients and their families in their fight against cancer.

Each patient's treatment journey consists of:

Initial consultation.
During your first appointment, your Medical Oncologist will review your medical records and any scans or lab work. If additional tests are needed, they will be ordered at this time. Your cancer will be assessed and the findings along with your prognosis will be discussed with you. Be sure you understand your treatment options and any possible side effects.

Treatment plan.
You and your doctor will agree on a personalized treatment plan. It may consist of chemotherapy, biotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these and other therapies. You will be scheduled to receive your first treatment usually within a few days.

Treatment session.
Chemotherapy and biotherapy are administered in one of our chemotherapy infusion suites. Most chemotherapy is given intravenously. These medicines don’t hurt, so if you experience any discomfort let your nurse know immediately. During your treatment you’ll be able to rest, talk with your family, watch your own individual TV, read, or listen to music.

Follow-up visits.
Post-treatment visits with your physician allow him or her to continue to monitor your health. Additional scans and tests may be requested.

Types of treatment

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy (or chemo) involves the use of powerful anti-cancer drugs that either destroy cancer cells to slow tumor growth or prevent cancer cells from multiplying to keep cancer from spreading. Chemotherapy is also used to relieve some cancer symptoms. Chemotherapy can be a single drug or combination of drugs and it can be administered several ways including intravenously and orally in the form of a pill.

Because chemotherapy drugs circulate in your bloodstream, they’re able to travel to parts of the body where cancer may have spread. Usually, treatments are given on more than one day in cycles. Your oncology team will select the drug(s) that will be most beneficial in treating your type of cancer and determine the dose and frequency.

Side effects vary and may include low white or red blood cell counts, hair loss, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience side effects as many of them can be prevented or controlled by medications.

Biotherapy

While chemotherapy destroys both cancerous and normal cells when it’s in your body, biotherapy is a targeted therapy that attacks only the cancer cells. Biotherapy is able to identify cancerous cells for destruction so damage to normal healthy cells is minimized. This reduces the side effects you would experience from regular chemotherapy as well as the treatment time.

Biotherapy drugs are on the cutting edge and are currently available for a limited number of types of cancer. Biotherapies do have some side effects, so be sure to discuss these with your Oncologist.

Hormone Therapy

Although it's similar to chemotherapy in that it affects cancer cells throughout the body, hormone therapy involves medications that interfere with hormone activity or stop the production of specific hormones. It may also involve the removal of a gland that is producing the hormones.

Hormones like estrogen actually aid cancer cell growth (i.e. breast cancer) while other hormones are used to destroy, slow or stop it by blocking it. Hormone therapy has also been effective in treating cancers like prostate cancer because it can help alleviate painful symptoms.

A hormone receptor test determines whether your cancer cells are sensitive to hormones. If your test is negative, other cancer treatments will be recommended. Side effects will vary, so speak with your physician if you have questions or concerns.