Chemotherapy uses powerful medications designed to eliminate or slow the growth of cancer cells. It can be used alone, or alongside surgery or radiation, to ensure all cancer cells have been destroyed.
It may be used as a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells, before another treatment to shrink a tumor, after another treatment to destroy any remaining cancer cells, or to relieve symptoms of advanced cancer.
Harbin Clinic medical oncologists tailor a personalized treatment plan to attack specific tumors, providing highly effective treatment with fewer side effects to help protect healthy organs and tissues and manage side effects. Every cancer is different. Genomic testing helps our doctors understand your cancer at the molecular level. Information about genomic changes that are unique to your individual cancer will help us determine treatments most likely to work for you.
Testing Cancer Cells for Genetic Changes
Sometimes after a person has been diagnosed with cancer, the doctor will order tests to look for gene changes in a sample of the cancer cells. These tests can give information on a person’s outlook and can sometimes help tell whether certain types of treatment might be useful.
These types of tests look for gene changes only in the cancer cells that are taken from the patient. These tests are not the same as the tests used to find out about inherited cancer risk.
It’s important to remember that testing positive for a gene mutation is not a guarantee of developing cancer. Some people who test positive for a mutation never get cancer.
Types of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is most often given as an infusion into a vein (intravenously). The medicine can be given by inserting a tube with a needle into a vein in your arm or into a device in a vein in your chest.
Some chemotherapy medicine can be taken in pill or capsule form.
Chemotherapy medicine can be injected with a needle, just as you would receive a shot.
Creams or gels containing chemotherapy medicine can be applied to the skin to treat certain types of skin cancer.
Chemotherapy medicine used to treat one area of the body
Chemotherapy medicine can be given directly to one area of the body. For instance, chemotherapy drugs can be given directly in the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy), or central nervous system (intrathecal chemotherapy). Chemotherapy can also be given through the urethra into the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy).
Chemotherapy given directly to the cancer
Chemotherapy can be given directly to the cancer or, after surgery, where the cancer once was. As an example, thin disk-shaped wafers containing chemotherapy drugs can be placed near a tumor during surgery. The wafers break down over time, releasing chemotherapy drugs.
Other Types of Therapy
As researchers have learned more about the inner workings of cancer cells, they have begun to create new drugs that attack cancer cells more specifically than traditional chemotherapy drugs.
Drugs in this category are sex hormones, or hormone-like drugs, that change the action or production of female or male hormones.
Some drugs are given to people with cancer to stimulate their natural immune systems to recognize and attack cancer cells. These drugs offer a unique method of treatment, and are often considered to be separate from chemotherapy. There are different types of immunotherapy. Active immunotherapy stimulates the body’s own immune system to fight the disease. Passive immunotherapy does not rely on the body to attack the disease; instead, they use immune system components (such as antibodies) created outside the body. One type of immunotherapy is a groundbreaking new treatment for men with a specific type of prostate cancer.
Personalized Treatment Approach
When you are referred to Harbin Clinic Cancer Center, your case may be presented at our Cancer Treatment Team Meeting where medical experts across many disciplines review your medical history and perform a full diagnostic evaluation, then present you with an individualized treatment plan based on your specific diagnosis.
Our medical oncologists use genomic testing to identify the appropriate drug combination for your specific type of cancer and to avoid unnecessary toxicity. You may receive chemotherapy alone, or in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects
Chemotherapy targets cancer cells. However it can also damage healthy cells causing unpleasant side effects. Some of the most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue and mouth sores. We provide a variety of complementary therapies, in addition to standard medications, to help you prevent or lessen some of the side effects throughout your chemotherapy treatment.