Treatment Options and New Technologies
The St. James Cancer Center offers cutting edge chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments. Our modern technology enables patients to receive the newest advances in radiation therapy, as well as a wide range of treatment options – all designed to best meet the patient's needs and ensure the highest level of quality healthcare.
The treatment and treatment planning/delivery technologies offered for radiation therapy include:
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy – A specialized way of tightly conforming the radiation therapy fields to treat only the tumor or area of interest while minimizing the dose to adjacent critical structures.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) – The leading-edge in radiation therapy technology available today. It attacks cancer by delivering small beams or "beamlets" of radiation with varying intensities from many different angles, which provides the radiation oncologist a degree of control and precision impossible with other techniques. This reduces side effects and makes it possible to deliver a higher radiation dose, which can result in higher rates of cure.
- Brachytherapy – Brachytherapy (pronounced "breaky-therapy") is a form of radiation therapy which treats patients by implanting the radiation source directly inside the tumor, to attack the cancer from within or in the area "at risk" (i.e., where cancerous cells potentially exist). Brachytherapy is commonly used at St. James for certain types of brain tumors and for certain specific gynecologic cancers.
The treatment and treatment planning/delivery technologies offered for medical oncology include:
- Chemotherapy – Many people are familiar with the term "chemotherapy," which most often refers to the administration of a combination of drugs that destroy cancer cells. For some patients chemotherapy may cure the cancer; for others, it may simply keep the cancer from spreading further. It may be used in combination of other treatments, such as radiation. Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer and can be given to patients in a variety of ways, including IV infusions, injections or oral medications. For patients requiring multiple rounds of chemotherapy over a long period of time, a catheter may be placed into his or her chest during an outpatient procedure. The chemotherapy medications may then be delivered through it.
- Hormone Therapy – Hormones are powerful, naturally occurring chemicals in our bodies that are important for processes such as growth, sexual function and metabolism. In some people, however, they all actually spur cancer growth; for instance, some breast cancers are particularly affected by or sensitive to the hormone estrogen. Depending on the type of cancer you are diagnosed with, your oncologist may suggest you undergo a hormone receptor test that indicates whether or not tumor growth is caused by your body’s hormones. If it is found to be the cause of tumor growth, certain drugs, such as Tamoxifen, may be administered to leach the hormone from the body to prohibit further growth. This type of therapy may be used as a primary treatment or in coordination with other types of treatments.
- Targeted Cancer Therapy – Using drugs or other substances, targeted cancer therapy does what its name suggests: focus specifically on the molecules that cause or increase cancer growth in cells. By targeting these molecules, the division of cells can no longer continue. In addition, some targeted therapies encourage the patient’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Targeted cancer therapy also has certain benefits when compared to other treatments, including minimizing the damage to healthy cells and reducing certain side effects. If your oncologist believes this treatment is right for you, it may be used alone or with other therapies.