Medical Oncology Services
A medical oncologist is a doctor who coordinates and oversees your medical care in relation to cancer treatment. Medical oncologists specialize in the use of medications, such as chemotherapy, hormones and analgesics (medications to reduce pain) in the management of cancer. The role of the medical oncologist, however, is more than just prescribing medications to treat cancer. From the moment of diagnosis throughout the course of the disease and survivorship, medical oncologists provide care by:
- Providing education specific to cancer type and the stages of its development
- Discussing treatment options and making recommendations
- Monitoring your care and treatment throughout the course of the disease
- Working collaboratively with you and your family to improve your quality of life through healing therapies and management of pain and symptoms
St. Vincent Healthcare is proud to partner with local oncology physicians to ensure the treatment you receive is tailored specifically for you and managed by experts in the field.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, there is the possibility you may be given drugs to treat the disease. These may include:
- Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy begins to work after becoming available in your blood stream (either after taking a pill, receiving a shot or an infusion) where it is able to travel to the location within the body where the cancer cells are. Chemotherapy is often used to cure cancer but can also be used to slow the growth of cancer cells or to keep the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. When a cancer has been removed by surgery, chemotherapy may also be given to keep the cancer from coming back (adjuvant therapy). Chemotherapy can also be used to ease the symptoms of cancer, allowing many people to enjoy a greater quality of life.
- Hormone Therapy - Hormones are chemicals produced by glands, such as the ovaries and testicles. Hormones help some types of cancer cells to grow, such as breast and prostate cancer. In other cases, hormones can kill cancer cells, make cancer cells grow more slowly, or stop them from growing altogether. Hormone therapy as a cancer treatment may involve taking medications that interfere with the activity of the hormone or stop the production of the hormones.
- Biotherapy/Targeted Agents - Biotherapy agents are drugs used to boost or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. They can also be used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments. Many agents considered biotherapy drugs are also considered targeted agents. This means that they were created to target very specific sites on the tumor cells, rather than working throughout the entire body.
If these medications are prescribed to your while you are at St. Vincent Healthcare, you can rest assured knowing that specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24 hours a day to administer these medications and answer questions you may have.