Medical oncology focuses on monitoring cancer and delivering cancer treatment with medications. MultiCare Cancer Center's board-certified medical oncology physicians provide diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of all types of cancer, including solid tumors and blood disorders (such as cancers) and bone marrow disorders, including leukemia and lymphoma. Doctors treat patients with the most current anti-cancer drugs and treatment protocols available.
Chemotherapy is the use of specialized medicines to treat cancer. There are over 100 chemotherapy drugs, used individually or in various combinations. You and your doctor will decide which drug or combination of drugs, dosages, frequency and length of treatment is best for you. They can also be used in combination with radiation therapy before, during or after treatment. The treatment plan for a patient is referred to as a PROTOCOL.
Depending on the type of cancer and its stage of development, chemotherapy can be used to:
- Cure your cancer.
- Keep the cancer from spreading.
- Slow the cancer's growth.
- Kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body from the original tumor (called metastases).
- Relieve symptoms caused by cancer, including pain.
Intravenous infusion of medications is a common technique of administering chemotherapy, or water for hydration, directly into a vein using a small flexible catheter (tube). This process allows medication to reach the entire body through the blood stream and bypass the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, where some medications would be broken down and be less able to do their job.
Infused medications can also be given directly into a surgically implanted catheter such as a 'Port-a-cath,' 'Groshong,' 'PIC Line' or Hickman Catheter. Some therapies require the use of a small portable pump to deliver medication through a catheter and then into the blood stream on a continuous basis.