Understanding Your Cancer Treatment
Medical Oncology is the practice of evaluating and treating patients with cancer. Our Board-
Certified Professionals work with each patient to create an individualized treatment plan, guide
you through each step of therapy, monitor progress and connect you with other additional
treatment methodologies as needed, The infusion center provides chemotherapy,
immunotherapy, and other treatments. Finding the right cancer treatment is an important step toward survivorship. For many types of cancer, systemic chemotherapy may be the right answer. Oncologists at Saint Vincent Hospital work to guide you through the chemotherapy process and make sure you have the right balance of anti-cancer drugs.
Systemic Chemotherapy: What to Expect
Systemic chemotherapy is a process in which patients take anti-cancer drugs by mouth or through an injection. These drugs then travel through the body to attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be delivered along or sometimes in combination with radiation therapy or surgery. This systemic (whole body) therapy can work to slow or reduce likelihood of the spread of cancer, shrink or destroy tumors, and reduce current symptoms. The use of chemotherapy by itself and in combination with other therapies depends on:
- Your stage and type of cancer
- Your overall health
- Your previous cancer treatments
- Your cancer location
- Your personal treatment preferences
It is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment plan before beginning chemotherapy to make sure it is the right option for you. Your doctor and the rest of the Saint Vincent Hospital team will help you to anticipate any of the potential problems that are associated with this type of cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, the use of systemic chemotherapy does come as a calculated risk. Chemo drugs attack cells that divide rapidly, which is how they are able to work against cancer cells. But cancer cells aren’t the only cells in the body that divide quickly. These chemotherapy drugs can end up attacking cells in the bone marrow, the lining of the mouth and intestines, and the hair follicles, causing some undesirable side effects.
The side effects from chemo are dependent on the type and dose of the drugs, and how long they’re used. Side effects that you may see during treatment include:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Increased risk of infection
- Sexual and reproductive problems
- Skin changes
Depending on the anti-cancer drugs that you receive, you may experience other side effects that aren’t listed here. If you are experiencing extremes in these side effects, talk to your doctor or nurse about how they may be lessened.
If you are a patient have a question about your current chemotherapy treatment you can contact:
- Eaton Place Oncology at 508-363-6515
- Reliant Hematology/Oncology at 508-556-5400