Medical Oncology Services
Medical oncology involves treating cancers using one or more drug- or hormone-based therapies. Your oncologist will work with you in determining which therapy—or combination of therapies—will work best in your specific case. Some of the most common are:
Many people are familiar with the term “chemotherapy”, which most often refers to the administration of a combination of drugs that destroy cancer cells. For some patients chemotherapy may cure the cancer; for others, may simply keep the cancer from spreading further. It may be used in combination of other treatments, such as radiation.
Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer and can be given to patients in a variety of ways, including IV infusions, injections or oral medications. For patients requiring multiple rounds of chemotherapy over a long period of time, a catheter may be placed into his or her chest during an outpatient procedure. The chemotherapy medications may then be delivered through it.
Hormones are powerful, naturally occurring chemicals in our bodies that are important for processes such as growth, sexual function and metabolism. In some people, however, they all actually spur cancer growth; for instance, some breast cancers are particularly affected by or sensitive to the hormone estrogen. Depending on the type of cancer you are diagnosed with, your oncologist may suggest you undergo a hormone receptor test that indicates whether or not tumor growth is caused by your body’s hormones. If it is found to be the cause of tumor growth, certain drugs, such as Tamoxifen, may be administered to leach the hormone from the body to prohibit further growth. This type of therapy may be used as a primary treatment or in coordination with other types of treatments.
Targeted Cancer Therapy
Using drugs or other substances, targeted cancer therapy does what its name suggests: focus specifically on the molecules that cause or increase cancer growth in cells. By targeting these molecules, the division of cells can no longer continue. In addition, some targeted therapies encourage the patient’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
Targeted cancer therapy also has certain benefits when compared to other treatments, including minimizing the damage to healthy cells and reducing certain side effects. If your oncologist believes this treatment is right for you, it may be used alone or with other therapies.