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Cancer Treatments

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We emphasize patient understanding and individual privacy
during chemotherapy treatments.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy, or treatment of cancer by medication, is a constantly changing and improving technology. New combinations of drugs used to fight cancer are showing increased effectiveness with reduced side effects.

Our certified oncology nurses are specialists, prepared to care for you during your course of chemotherapy treatments. They will provide “primary nursing care,” which means they will be totally familiar with your problems and needs, both in the center as well as at home. Your nurses will work closely with your doctors to provide a thorough assessment of your needs and provide hands-on treatment during each visit. The nurses are also available for follow-up contact after you leave the center in case you have a question or a problem. Remember, help is only a phone call away.

We emphasize patient understanding and individual privacy during chemotherapy treatments. You will be counseled before treatment to explain the nature of the medications used to fight your cancer and how you can help reduce the side effects. Your nurse will explain each medication to you before it is administered. Since some medications given along with chemotherapy may cause drowsiness, you are asked to bring along a family member or friend to escort you home after your first treatment. If you do not become drowsy with your first treatment, you may drive yourself for subsequent visits.


Radiation Therapy
Many types of cancer can be treated by exposing the diseased area to radiation. St. Elizabeth Cancer Care has state-of-the-art linear accelerators that treat cancer with a varied arsenal of radiation techniques. Modern technology provides energy-specific radiation, which centers treatment on a prescribed point in the body and minimizes effects to surrounding tissue.

Many types of cancer can be treated by exposing the diseased area to radiation. St. Elizabeth Cancer Care has state-of-the-art linear accelerators that treat cancer with a varied arsenal of radiation techniques. Modern technology provides energy-specific radiation, which centers treatment on a prescribed point in the body and minimizes effects to surrounding tissue.

Before the first treatment, a dedicated CAT scan simulation is used by the physician to pinpoint the exact area to be treated. A sophisticated three-dimensional computer planning system calculates the best method for delivery of the precise amount of radiation necessary to destroy the cancer. Most radiation treatment is given externally, which is very similar to getting an x-ray. Radioactive implants may also be used for patients requiring very intense radiation to a localized area. St. Elizabeth Cancer Care offers HDR or High Dose Rate radiation therapy for certain disease types. HDR is a method for delivering radiation via radioactive seeds or sources inserted directly into or very near the tumor. Advantages of HDR include fewer side effects, convenience of an outpatient procedure, and quicker recovery.

The actual radiation treatment lasts only a few minutes and the majority of that time is spent positioning you on the table. Markings placed on your skin during simulation will assist the radiation therapists in aiming the radiation beam. You can expect to be in Cancer Care for 20-30 minutes for each treatment. The radiation therapists will perform your treatment every day based on instructions from your physician. Your physician will see you at least once a week and more often if your needs require. Radiation treatments are given daily, Monday – Friday, excluding major holidays.

The side effects of radiation differ depending on the area of the body being treated. Expected side effects will be discussed at your initial consultation. Radiation therapy, brachytherapy and other types of cancer treatments are administered with many safeguards to protect you from risk and unnecessary irradiation to parts of the body not requiring treatment. In order to spare normal tissue, customized molds and blocks may be fabricated to position you during treatment.

Unlike chemotherapy, which is administered to the entire body via the bloodstream, radiation is a form of energy directed and restricted to the area of the tumor. The radiation is not absorbed by the rest of the body, nor are you “radioactive” when you leave the treatment room.

Remember, each individual’s treatment is different. The side effects you experience might not be the same as that of someone else. Any concerns or problems you have may be directed to the radiation oncology nurse or radiation therapist. If a staff member is unable to answer your questions, we will refer it to one of the physicians, who are always on call. If problems arise after 5 p.m. or on holidays or weekends, call your physician to speak with the physician on-call.



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