Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy and stop the growth of cancer cells. More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer are treated with chemotherapy. Millions of people receive chemotherapy and their cancer is treated effectively, allowing them to enjoy full and productive lives.
Chemotherapy cannot tell the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells. Therefore, chemotherapy eliminates not only fast-growing cancer cells, but also fast-growing cells in your body, like hair and blood cells. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects which often go away after chemotherapy treatments are completed.
Depending on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can be used to destroy cancer cells until no longer detected by your physician; slow the growth of cancer cells and/or stop cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body; and/or to shrink tumors that are causing pressure or pain in parts of your body effected by the cancer.
Our staff is here to help you understand the process you will undergo and to provide you with a clear understanding of chemotherapy and your treatment.
You may get treatment daily, weekly or monthly and treatment periods are followed by a period of rest during which you won't get chemotherapy. Often, patients receive chemotherapy in cycles. For example, in a four week cycle, you may receive one week of chemotherapy followed by three weeks of rest. Rest gives your body a chance to build healthy new cells.
Chemotherapy can be given in many forms including the following: an IV (intravenously); a shot (injection) into a muscle or other part of your body; a pill or a liquid that you swallow; or a cream that is rubbed on your skin.
Treatment schedules for chemotherapy vary widely and are dependent upon multiple factors including the type of cancer, goals of treatment, type of chemotherapy and how your body reacts to the treatment. Discuss your chemotherapy treatment schedule with your Greater Regional Cancer Center physician. We realize patients have other personal and professional commitments and our goal is to accommodate scheduling needs where possible.
Side Effects during Treatment
Each person and treatment is different, so it is not always possible to tell how you will feel. Some people feel well enough to keep their normal schedules at home or at work. Others feel more tired. Many side effects can be prevented or controlled. Ask your physician what side effects you may experience and how you can best manage them.
Clinical Trials offered at Greater Regional Cancer Center
Clinical trials, a popular option for many people undergoing cancer treatment, are research-based studies that involve people to test new treatments and find better ways to treat cancer.
Participating in a clinical trial allows you to try a new treatment that could possibly work better than the treatment already being given.
Discuss with your physician what clinical trials might be available for the type of cancer you have, and whether it is appropriate for you to take part in any of those offered.
Please call 641-782-3693 with any questions.
The above chemotherapy text was adapted from National Cancer Institute materials.
Visit https://www.cancer.gov/ for more information.
Treatment Options: Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is an important component in the management of a patient with cancer. The radiation oncology team at Greater Regional Cancer Center has highly trained personnel that work closely with you and your physicians to administer treatment.
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. Used in cancer treatment, a tool called a linear accelerator electrically manufactures x-rays in much the same way as an X-ray of your teeth or bones, except it is given at much higher doses. Nearly 60 percent of people with cancer get radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer by curing, stopping or slowing the growth of cancer. It can also reduce symptoms by shrinking cancer tumors in order to relieve pressure and pain, or can prevent problems such as blindness or loss of bowel and bladder control.
- Radiation therapy and surgery - Radiation may be given before, during, or after surgery as a way to shrink a tumor and kill any cancer cells that remain. During surgery, radiation therapy can be given to go straight to the cancer without passing through skin.
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy - Radiation may be given before, during, or after chemotherapy to shrink the cancer so that treatment works better and afterwards to kill any cancer cells that remain.
You may get radiation therapy once a day for many weeks but radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before cancer cells begin to die and they will continue dying for weeks after radiation therapy ends.
Radiation therapy may also affect nearby healthy cells. Spreading out your radiation sessions allows healthy cells to recover while cancer cells die.
Your physicians try to protect healthy cells during treatment by:
- Using as low a dose of radiation as possible
- Spreading out treatment over time
- Aiming radiation at a precise part of your body
- Using medicines to help protect certain parts of your body
Side Effects during Treatment
Radiation therapy does not hurt while being given, however, side effects may cause pain or discomfort. Each person and treatment is different, so it is not always possible to tell how you will feel. Some patients feel well enough to keep their normal schedules at home or at work. Others feel more tired. Patients may have side effects that do not get better or are severe. Most side effects from Radiation Therapy will be better 4-6 weeks after your last treatment.
Your physician will review with you in detail the side effects you may experience during your radiation therapy. Available handouts serve as a general guide to describe side effects and provide you with instructions on how to best manage them.
Once you have finished radiation therapy, you will need follow-up care and check-ups for the rest of your life. During these checkups, your physician will see how well the radiation therapy worked, check for other signs of cancer, look for late side effects, and talk with you about your treatment and ongoing care. Your physician will examine you and review how you have been feeling, order lab and imaging tests, discuss any additional treatment and answer any questions.
Your Radiation Therapy Team
Many healthcare providers work together to provide you with radiation treatment and care that is just right for you. Your radiation therapy team will include radiation oncologists, nurse practitioners, radiation nurses, radiation therapists and other healthcare workers.
You are also a very important part of the radiation therapy team. You can help to receive the best possible treatment by arriving on time for sessions, discussing your concerns and letting your physician know if you are in pain or experiencing side effects. We also encourage you to take care of your body by eating proper foods, drinking plenty of fluids and getting plenty of rest.
Please call 641-782-3693 with any questions.
The above radiation therapy text was adapted from National Cancer Institute materials.
Visit https://www.cancer.gov for more information.
Treatment Options - Surgery
At Greater Regional Cancer Center, our surgeons are skilled in providing the most appropriate surgical techniques and interventions for our patients from the pre-operative assessment to the post-operative recovery phase, and locally - without the inconvenience of traveling to a larger city.
We believe it is of utmost importance that you are comfortable during your experience in our department and will do everything possible to help lessen any anxiety you may have about your procedure. We listen to your needs, and keep you and your family well-informed and educated about your treatment.
For some types of cancer, surgery is the most common way to remove a tumor, which is a lump or mass that can be seen or felt by physicians or visualized on X-rays. When cancer cells are localized to one small area and there is little risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body, surgery may be used as the only form of treatment. In other situations, surgery may be used as a means to obtain tissue to establish the diagnosis of cancer or used in combination with one of the other forms of cancer treatment (i.e., chemotherapy or radiation therapy).
Common surgical procedures performed at Greater Regional Surgery Center include:
- Endoscopies (EGD & colonoscopies) and colon resections for GI-related cancers
- Port placements for chemotherapy treatments
- Mastectomy, quadrantectomy, lumpectomy; sentinel node breast biopsies and needle localized breast biopsies for breast cancers (Stereotactic breast biopsies are done in Greater Regional Medical Center radiology department)
- Hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures for cancers affecting the female reproductive system
- Bladder tumor excisions for urological cancers and lesion removals for skin cancers.
Our highly skilled patient-focused team includes two general surgeons, specialty surgeons, three Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and surgical nursing staff with years of knowledge and experience.
Our Greater Regional Surgery Center prides itself on how it cares for each patient and we are dedicated to providing compassionate patient care exceeding the expectations of our patients and families.
Please call 641-782-3532 with any questions.