At Cancer Care Specialists we believe in providing our patients and community with the newest and greatest possible cancer treatments. Our state of the art infusion centers and compounding pharmacies allow us to do just that. Below we have outlined several of the most common types of cancer treatments.
Biological therapy (also called immunotherapy, biological response modifier therapy, or biotherapy) uses the body's immune system to fight cancer. The cells, antibodies, and organs of the immune system work to protect and defend the body against foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. Physicians and researchers have found that the immune system might also be able to both determine the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells in the body, and to eliminate the cancer cells.
Biological therapies are designed to boost the immune system, either directly or indirectly, by assisting in the following:
making cancer cells more recognizable by the immune system, and therefore more susceptible to destruction by the immune system
boosting the killing power of immune system cells
changing the way cancer cells grow, so that they act more like healthy cells
stopping the process that changes a normal cell into a cancerous cell
enhancing the body's ability to repair or replace normal cells damaged or destroyed by other forms of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation
preventing cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body
Chemotherapy is a broad term referring to medications used to treat many types of cancer. Traditional chemotherapy medications are chemicals that kill cancer cells directly. We have many new medications, including targeted therapies and immunotherapies, that help treat your cancer in other ways. Most of these treatments can be given as an outpatients in the infusion center of our medical clinics. Some of these treatments are taken by mouth in pill form. In many cases, patients can continue working and pursuing other daily activities during treatment.
Chemotherapy given by IV infusion is administered by our oncology certified nurses who specialize in treatment, side effects, and the unique needs of patients who are undergoing this therapy. There is a nurse available during business hours to answer any chemotherapy-related questions you may have.
How does Chemotherapy work?
When our body cells are damaged or die we produce new ones to replace them. This is done in an orderly way, in a balanced way. Cancer cells do not have that orderly capacity - their reproduction (division and growth) is out of control - more and more of them are produced and they start to occupy more and more space, until eventually they push out space occupied by useful cells.
Chemotherapy (chemo) drugs interfere with a cancer cell's ability to divide and reproduce. Chemo drugs may be applied into the bloodstream to attack cancer cells throughout the body, or they can be delivered directly to specific cancer sites.
Chemotherapy has five possible goals:
Total remission - to cure the patient completely. In some cases chemotherapy alone can get rid of the cancer completely.
Combination therapy - chemotherapy can help other therapies, such as radiotherapy or surgery have more effective results.
Delay/Prevent recurrence - chemotherapy, when used to prevent the return of a cancer, is most often used after a tumor is removed surgically.
Slow down cancer progression - used mainly when the cancer is in its advanced stages and a cure is unlikely. Chemotherapy can slow down the advancement of the cancer.
To relieve symptoms - also more frequently used for patients with advanced cancer.
Therapies practiced together with, or in addition to, conventional medicine.
Combines traditional western and complementary approaches, but does not replace conventional therapy. It may be used for:
Increasing wellness (quality of life, reported sense of well-being)
Improving treatment outcomes
Is Integrative Therapy Right for Me?
Treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, herbal medicines, nutritional supplements and homeopathy have clinical and scientific evidence to support their use. The list of complementary and integrative medicine practices changes continually, as therapies that are proven safe and effective become accepted as mainstream treatment options.
Many patients report that complementary therapies are helpful, but others have found no effects or have reported problems.
It is important that your doctor knows what therapies you are using, and that treatments you receive are from a qualified practitioner. Many cancer patients use complementary therapies, but they should not be the only source of treatment.
Before trying any complementary or integrative therapy, it is important to consider:
Safety (appropriateness for your condition, quality control of herbal medicines and supplements, etc.)
Cost in time and money
Credentials of the practitioner
The hormones estrogen and progesterone can stimulate the growth of some breast cancers. Hormone therapy is used to stop or slow the growth of these tumors.
Hormone therapy is used to treat both early and advanced breast cancer, and to prevent breast cancer in women who are at high risk of developing the disease.
Certain medications, especially antidepressants, may reduce the potency of the hormone therapy drug tamoxifen. People who are taking antidepressants should discuss this issue with their doctor.
What is hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy (also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy) slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the body’s ability to produce hormones or by interfering with hormone action. Tumors that are hormone-insensitive do not respond to hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy for breast cancer is not the same as menopausal hormone therapy or female hormone replacement therapy, in which hormones are given to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
What are the side effects of hormone therapy?
The side effects of hormone therapy depend largely on the specific drug or the type of treatment. The benefits and risks of taking hormone therapy should be carefully weighed for each woman.
Hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness are common side effects of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy also disrupts the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women.