Trusted Chemotherapy Treatment
Innovative multi-modality therapies at Northridge Hospital offer patients the newest approaches while minimizing side-effects. The most advanced methods of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy treatment are available. Our personalized care, including nutritional recommendations, help for patients to look and feel their best with specialized beauty tips and meditation techniques.
The newly expanded Cancer Center offers an open and comfortable chemotherapy area featuring comfortable lounge chairs for patients and family, and a choice of infusion suites equipped with an individual television with headset, DVD players, iPod and Wi-Fi for laptop access.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells, control their growth or relieve pain symptoms. Surgery and radiation therapy remove, kill or damage cancer cells in a certain area, but chemotherapy works throughout the whole body.
Chemotherapy can kill cancer cells that have metastasized or spread to parts of the body far away from the primary (original) tumor. Chemotherapy can be used in combination with other treatments such as surgery or radiation, to make sure all cancer cells have been eliminated.
What are the Benefits of Chemotherapy?
- Cure the 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
- Relieve symptoms caused by cancer
How Does Chemotherapy Work?
In your body, you have healthy cells that divide and grow to make more healthy cells. Cancer cells do not divide and grow normally. Cancer cells multiply much more quickly than normal cells. Your body cannot fight off these cancer cells because they grow so quickly.
The chemotherapy drugs target the growth patterns of specific types of cancer cells. Each drug has a different way or working and is effective at a specific time in the life cycle of the cell. You and your doctor will determine the chemotherapy drug or combination of drugs that are right for you.
More than 100 chemotherapy drugs are used in many combinations. A single chemotherapy drug can be used to treat cancer. But for the most part, the drugs work better when used in certain combinations.
A combination of drugs with different actions can work together to kill more cancer cells. It can also reduce the chance that the cancer may become resistant to any one chemotherapy drug.
Your doses and length of treatment will depend on the drugs chosen, the type of cancer and its progression, where it is, how big it is, and how it is affecting your normal body functions and overall health.
Innovative Chemotherapy Delivery Methods
Intravenous (IV) is the most common method. A needle is inserted into a vein and attached with tubing to a plastic bag holding the chemotherapy drugs. The needle is taken out at the end of each treatment.
For some patients who undergo several chemotherapy sessions, a catheter is inserted into one of the large veins and left in place during the entire chemotherapy regimen. Some patients have a metal or plastic disc known as a "port" implanted under the skin to serve as an IV connection device.
The chemotherapy drugs pass throughout the body and flow directly into the blood stream. IV bags are attached to a tall metal stand with wheels, providing some mobility. Some patients wear a small pump outside the body, with minimal interference to their normal routine. Other patients may have a drug pump surgically inserted into their body.
Oral chemotherapy drugs are taken by mouth, either in pill or liquid form. Injections are administered into the muscle, under the skin or directly into a cancer lesion, depending on the type or location of the cancer.
Topical administration is used to treat cancers of the skin and it comes in the form of lotions and gels, which are applied on the skin surface.
Other innovative methods which are tumor site-specific include:
Intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC) - a chemotherapy method used to treat liver and pancreatic cancer.
Intraperitoneal chemotherapy - used to treat ovarian cancer, which often spreads within the abdominal cavity.
Intrathecal chemotherapy - used to treat cancers that have reached the central nervous system, including some types of leukemia and lymphoma.
Metronomic chemotherapy - for patients who cannot tolerate full dosages of chemotherapy. In this method, we deliver a single chemotherapy dose in smaller doses over a period of a few days.
Managing Chemotherapy Side-Effects
Unfortunately, chemotherapy can’t tell the difference between cancer cells and fast-growing healthy cells, thus causing side effects which vary from patient to patient and with the type of chemotherapy drugs used. We strongly believe in minimizing the side-effects of chemotherapy so you can maintain your quality of life.
Today’s chemotherapy and side-effect management has come a long way. There are therapies to help you control the side-effects or even prevent them from occurring.