Comprehensive Oncology Therapies and Care Coordination
At Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, our highly-trained, highly skilled and experienced board-certified oncologists offer complete coordination of your cancer treatment, including comprehensive therapies from the leading edge of cancer care. Your SMOC cancer specialist works with you to develop a treatment plan customized to your unique needs, lifestyle and type and stage of cancer.
Types of cancer treatment
Immunotherapy, a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer, plays a critically important role in the treatment of cancer. For decades, doctors have used different therapies/treatments to enhance the immune system in this way. Immunotherapy approaches for cancer are divided into two categories, active and passive. While most treatments were non-specific until a few years ago, research and clinical studies have led to more specific immunotherapy treatments for cancer. In fact, immunotherapy for cancer has become a more commonly used treatment approach, thanks to the development of monoclonal antibodies with relatively unique anti-tumor specificity.
Chemotherapy is the most common method of treating cancer, with more than half of diagnosed individuals being treated through chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is medication therapy, and it works by damaging cancer cells slowly over time, with breaks in treatment to allow normal cells time to recover. Cancer cells, with faulty DNA, do not recover normally. Chemotherapy drugs can be injected into the veins or a body cavity, or they can be taken orally (pill). Some people are frightened by the side effects associated with chemotherapy, which include low red-blood-cell and white-blood-cell counts, low platelet counts, nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. Many of these side effects, however, today can be prevented or controlled, allowing for much easier treatment than in years past. If you and your oncologist decide that chemotherapy is right for you, we’ll develop a treatment plan specifically for your needs.
Radiation therapy, also known as “radiotherapy,” is the careful use of high-energy radiation to treat cancer. Radiotherapy works like chemotherapy, relying on the faulty recovery mechanism of cancer cells to ultimately destroy them. Radiation can also be used to relieve pain in cancer patients. Side effects of radiation therapy include a decrease in white blood cells, fatigue, skin reactions, and loss of appetite. While side effects can be unpleasant, they can usually be treated or controlled. If radiation therapy is right for your needs, your SMOC oncologist will coordinate your care and work with a radiation-oncology subspecialist to develop an appropriate, effective treatment plan.
Surgery is a primary form of cancer treatment that involves the physical excision of a tumor. It is used by itself as well as in combination with other forms of treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.). Surgery can help prevent, diagnose and stage cancer as well as relieve symptoms and remove the cancer. The surgeon will remove a margin of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, which helps ensure all the cancer has been excised and reduces the chance of local cancer recurrence. Many surgeries are followed by irradiation of the surgical margin to further ensure cancer doesn’t recur, or by chemotherapy. As with all surgeries and all cancer treatment, there are some associated risks, which you’ll be informed of should it be determined that surgery could be right for your needs.
Biological therapy works with the immune system in order to help fight cancer or control side effects from other cancer treatments you are receiving. While treatments like chemotherapy attack cancer directly, biological therapy helps the immune system to fight cancer. Doctors aren’t sure precisely what it is that biological therapy achieves, but it may stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, making it easier for the immune system to destroy or get rid of cancer cells or keep the cancer from spreading to other areas of the body.
Hormone therapy is not a first-line cancer treatment, but it is often used in combination with other cancer treatments. It’s used to treat cancers that are dependent on hormones to grow and spread. People receiving hormone therapy either take medications or undergo surgery to reduce the levels of certain hormones (e.g., estrogen, testosterone) involved in cancer growth. Hormone therapy can be used to treat cancer of the breast, ovaries, uterus and prostate. Hormone therapy’s side effects can include temporary or permanent infertility. Some more advanced cancers can develop resistance to hormone therapy and begin to grow again after a period of time. In this case, your oncologist may need to switch you to a non-hormonal therapy.
Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part, usually in the extremities, and affects about 1% of the U.S. population. Lymphedema is treatable with manual lymph drainage, proper bandaging, skin and nail care, exercise and patient education. Lymphedema therapy duration depends on the severity of lymphedema. At SMOC, we will coordinate your lymphedema therapy, referring you to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced lymphedema therapist. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with our lymphedema therapist, call 844-316-7077.
For more information about the kinds of oncology therapies we offer and coordinate, or to schedule an appointment, call 919-580-0000. Also, feel free to schedule an appointment using our easy online appointment request form.