Medical Oncology

Medical oncology specialists are highly trained to diagnose and treat cancer and blood disorders. As part of Portneuf’s cancer treatment team, our medical oncologists use the latest techniques and technologies in chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies and many others to help you achieve your best possible outcome. We also work in partnership with you, your primary care provider, and other specialists to make sure you receive the most effective, evidence-based care, including access to clinical trials across the region.

Your Medical Oncology Treatment Team

Board Certified Medical Oncologist/ Hematologist– The medical oncologist is a physician who has received special training on utilizing chemotherapy to treat cancer as well as manage disorders of the blood. They work in combination with other cancer physicians (surgeons & radiation oncologists) to determine the best mode of treatment for your particular cancer. Please see the biographical information on our current Medical Oncologists at Portneuf Cancer Center.

Medical Oncology Physician Assistants – Physician assistants are medical professionals who serve as an extension of the medical oncologists as well as provide a variety of skills to supplement your cancer care. Our PAs help you throughout treatment from providing individualized education, continuous monitoring of your condition during treatment, managing side effects and providing surveillance following completion of treatment. These professionals are supervised daily by our medical oncologists, collaborate closely with support staff within the Cancer Center, and are an integral part of maintaining access to quality cancer care in a timely manner.

Oncology Certified Registered Nurses-These highly skilled professionals have received additional training on administering prescribed cancer therapies. These nurses can also provide education, monitoring and nursing interventions as you proceed through treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is any treatment involving the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Cancer chemotherapy may consist of single drugs or combinations of drugs, and can be administered through a vein, injected into a body cavity, or delivered orally in the form of a pill. Chemotherapy is different from surgery or radiation therapy in that the cancer-fighting drugs circulate in the blood to parts of the body where the cancer may have spread and can kill or eliminate cancers cells at sites great distances from the original cancer. As a result, chemotherapy is considered a systemic treatment.

More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy.  For millions of people who have cancers that respond well to chemotherapy, this approach helps treat their cancer effectively, enabling them to enjoy full, productive lives. Furthermore, many side effects once associated with chemotherapy are now easily prevented or controlled, allowing many people to work, travel, and participate in many of their other normal activities while receiving chemotherapy.

Being informed about chemotherapy and its potential side effects can help you to proactively manage your own care and optimize your treatment and outcome. Things you may need to know include the following topics:

How is chemotherapy delivered?

There are a variety of schedules and techniques used to deliver chemotherapy and yours will depend on which treatment your doctor prescribes. Cancer chemotherapy may consist of a single drug or combinations of drugs that are delivered in cycles. A cycle consists of treatment with one or more drugs followed by a period of rest.

Chemotherapy can be administered orally in the form of a pill, into a vein (intravenous), injected into a muscle (intramuscular), or into the spinal fluid (intrathecal). Currently, most chemotherapy is administered intravenously; however, oral chemotherapy drugs are gaining wider use. In some cases, it may be beneficial to administer IV chemotherapy through a venous access device (VAD), which is inserted into a major vein in the body and can remain in place for a long period of time. Not every chemotherapy patient requires a VAD. However, for those that are undergoing frequent treatment, blood tests, and nutritional support, a VAD is beneficial by reducing the number of needle sticks and associated discomfort.

Managing the Side Effects

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