Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells by stopping or slowing their growth. Chemotherapy can also harm healthy cells such as those that line your mouth and intestines, or those that cause your hair to grow.
Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects, and side effects usually get better or go away after chemotherapy is over. Chemotherapy can cure cancer, control cancer and control cancer symptoms, but its effectiveness depends on the type of cancer, how advanced it is and other factors.
Vanderbilt offers chemotherapy Infusion services at:
Radiation therapy uses radiation to safely treat cancer and other diseases. Doctors use radiation to cure cancer, to control cancer growth and to relieve pain and other symptoms. Radiation therapy works by damaging cancer cells’ DNA, destroying their ability to reproduce. When these damaged cells die, the body naturally gets rid of them. Normal cells are also affected by radiation, but they can repair themselves in a way that cancer cells can’t.
While you have radiation therapy, a team of highly trained experts will work together to offer you the best care possible. A radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer, leads this team.
Radiation can be used alone or with chemotherapy or surgery. A doctor specialized in oncology prescribes radiation therapy, and it is given by a licensed radiation therapist. Physicists and nurses also help deliver radiation oncology treatment.
Two types of radiation therapy include:
Radiation therapy is provided at:
Surgical oncology focuses on treating cancer with surgery. Surgical oncologists are doctors who perform biopsies, resections, reconstructive surgeries, palliative surgeries and other procedures. Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center provides multidisciplinary care and offers surgical oncology treatment in sarcoma and soft tissue tumors, melanoma and cutaneous cancers, gastrointestinal cancers, endocrine surgery and breast diseases.
Surgical oncology is offered at:
Biological therapy is a type of treatment that works with your immune system to help fight cancer or help control side effects from other cancer treatments like chemotherapy. While biological therapy and chemotherapy are both treatments that fight cancer, they work in different ways. Biological therapy helps your immune system fight cancer. Chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells directly.
A stem cell transplant replaces immature cells that form blood in the bone marrow that have been destroyed by drugs, radiation or disease. Stem cells are injected into the patient to make healthy blood cells. Stem cell transplants are common treatments for types of leukemia and lymphoma. There are three types of stem cell transplants:
Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplants are provided at:
Cancer treatment can be tailored to your cancer when tumors have known genetic changes driving their growth and when drugs exist that counteract those signals. According to William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., the Director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology as well as Personalized Cancer Medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, personalized oncology means to match the right drug to the right patient at the right time.
Through Personalized Cancer Medicine, a diagnostic test is offered that determines genes that are abnormal in your tumor. The test examines three to eight of the most important genes at once and uses tissue from your original biopsy. Typically, no new biopsy is needed for this test, but if an additional biopsy is requested for medical reasons, your Vanderbilt physician can order the Personalized Cancer Medicine test for that biopsy. With your consent, the test results are added into Vanderbilt's electronic medical record because the information could be useful to your doctor in order to make decisions about your treatment.
Learn more about Personalized Cancer Medicine.