THE BEST TREATMENT FOR YOU
Which form of treatment is best for you? Your treatment is determined by many factors, such as the type and stage of disease, its rate of progression, your age, any other medical conditions you may have, and your previous treatment history. After we determine the best treatment for you, we will discuss it with you and your family and communicate our recommendations to your referring physician. Many treatment procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, allowing lifestyles to continue with minimal disruption.
Forms of Treatment
There are several ways blood malignancies and cancer may be treated, including one or a combination of the following:
- Biological therapy (immunotherapy, targeted therapy)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormonal therapy
- Stem Cell transplant
- Clinical Trials
As hematologists and oncologists, we assist in the diagnosis of your disease; coordinate care between us and any other specialists that you may need; determine and administer hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy medication regimens; perform stem cell transplantations; and arrange for radiation therapy and surgery. We then provide follow-up care for patients who have completed therapy.
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to kill fast-growing cells in the body. Because the chemotherapy will also kill some healthy cells, we often have to use additional support medication to help with side effects (such as nausea, diarrhea or low blood counts).
There are several different chemotherapy drugs available. They can be given alone or in combination, and are generally given in one of four ways: intravenously (through an IV), intramuscularly or subcutaneously (through a shot), or orally (by mouth). A specially trained staff of registered oncology nurses will administer your chemotherapy. Our nurses have extensive training in the care of oncology patients and chemotherapy administration, and many are nationally certified in oncology nursing.
Before your treatment, we will provide literature describing chemotherapy in general and specific information about the drugs you will receive, including their potential side effects. Our nurses work closely with our physicians to monitor your condition and progress.
Biological therapy refers to the use of the body's own immune system to help fight and kill the cancer cells. These therapies are also given alone or in combination, and are generally given in one of four ways: intravenously (through an IV), intramuscularly or subcutaneously (through a shot), or orally (by mouth). Not all types of cancer are able to be treated with this type of therapy.
There are many different kinds of biological therapies. Some work by directly adjusting or boosting the body's own immune system to attack cancer cells (immunotherapy). Others work by attaching a drug to a cancer cell, which can kill it in several ways (monoclonal antibody therapy). Some can block blood vessels from growing to the cancer cells (anti-angiogenesis), while others may be made to look like a foreign substance so our body will attack it (vaccine therapy).
Targeted therapy is used to specifically attack only cancer cells and to leave the healthy cells alone. This can help reduce the side effects that a patient may have with treatment. These medications can be given alone or in combination with a chemotherapy regimen. They are given in the same ways that chemotherapy and biological therapy are given. At this time, not all cancer types are able to be treated with targeted therapy.
Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment administered by a physician specialist known as a radiation oncologist. Radiation uses high-energy rays to damage or kills cancer cells by preventing them from growing or dividing. This can be done by giving radiation externally (by a machine outside of the body) or internally (by using radioactive material that is implanted in or near the cancer).
We often recommend this therapy to help treat certain types of cancer or its complications. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are sometimes given at the same time, or they can be given one after the other. Close communication between Hematology & Oncology Consultants, P.C., and the radiation oncologists is important and is ongoing in your treatment process.
Patients with hematologic and oncologic disease often need to have surgery for diagnosis or treatment. Surgery can be used to remove a small part of your cancer (biopsy) to make a diagnosis, or it can be used to remove all or some of your cancer (resection). However, sometimes surgery is not able to remove all of the cancer in the body.
If you require surgery, we will coordinate pre- and post-operative care with your surgeon. We will follow your post-operative recovery in the hospital with your surgeon and primary care physician.
Hormones are substances that occur naturally in your body. There are many types of hormones, and some are specifically created to stimulate growth of certain types of tissue (such as the breasts or prostate gland). Hormonal therapy uses drugs to block or to change the way these specific hormones work. This helps to prevent the growth of certain types of tumors that are sensitive to hormone levels in the body. Like all therapies, these can be given through different routes and with different combinations of other medications.
Peripheral Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cell transplantation is an effective therapy that is sometimes used in the treatment of blood malignancies, such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, and also in some solid tumor cancers. This process begins by initially taking a chemotherapy drug to wipe out the body's blood cells. Patients will then receive a drug to boost their blood to produce new, healthy cells (stem cells). These will be removed from the body and saved for transplantation. Patients will then receive high levels of chemotherapy to wipe out all of their blood cells (cancer and healthy). After that, the new stem cells are transplanted back into the body.
Each patient is very individual, and the physicians will help to decide if this is a good treatment option for you. If a transplant is decided, a team of coordinators will meet with you and discuss the process leading up to, and including, the transplant procedure.
Clinical trials are the best way to make the most advanced treatments available to patients while adding to the knowledge base of cancer treatment. Taking part in a clinical trial is the patient's choice. Patients have the right to know all the facts before joining a study and may discontinue at any time. There are many advantages to being a part of a clinical trial. For example, patients have the opportunity to receive new, better-working medications prior to their approval, or new drugs and treatments in a clinical trial may be provided at no cost to the patient. If you are interested in participating in clinical trials, one of our coordinators can assist you.
To find national trials available, check out the National Cancer Institute website or the ClinicalTrials.gov website.