John Muir Health physicians provide systemic treatments – chemotherapy, biologic therapy, or hormonal treatment – that can effectively treat cancer usually with little side effects.
New systemic treatments are constantly improving their ability to attack cancerous cells while sparing normal cells.
Gone are the days when administering chemotherapy often made the patient feel sicker than the cancer. Nowadays, systemic treatment is delivered on an outpatient basis, usually as a prescription drug taken orally or received at the doctor’s office through intravenous (IV) therapy.
In just the past five years, we have made significant strides in implementing new systemic treatments that manage cancer. Physicians might use systemic treatments in a number of different situations, depending on the type of cancer, its stage, and other factors related to your condition.
We might use them before a surgery to reduce the size of tumor, after surgery to eliminate any remnants of the cancer, and in combination with other treatment options, like radiation oncology.
The three most common forms of systemic treatments are:
Chemotherapy is the term used for drugs that kill cancer cells. In fact, these days, the term usually includes biologic or immunologic agents, also called targeted agents. In general, chemotherapy functions by interfering with a cells ability to reproduce, often by disrupting DNA replication. The side effects are noted because the drugs are active against both abnormal (malignant) cells and normal tissue.
With our patients in mind, we built a healing comfortable infusion suite at our cancer center in Pleasant Hill. Here, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, experimental therapy and supportive therapy are administered to patients in private spaces with room for family members. Each space offers a comfortable reclining chair, soothing music and wireless internet access. Our staff of compassionate chemotherapy certified nurses constantly monitor and assist patients and we staff with the highest nurse to patient ratio possible. Our unique structure allows our doctors and nurses to work closely and cohesively, providing the most coordinated care possible for each patient.
The FDA recently issued a clearance for “scalp-cooling systems” that help prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (hair loss) for patients with solid tumor cancers. These scalp-cooling systems provide automated cooling to the patient’s scalp during chemotherapy treatments. Cooling the cells on the scalp reduces blood flow and cell metabolism to this area, which helps to protect the hair follicles from chemotherapy. Scalp cooling can significantly minimize hair loss from certain chemotherapy treatments for men and women with solid tumor cancers such as those associated with breast, prostate, ovarian and uterine.
Some of the more exciting recent advances have come in biotherapy, which stimulates some of the natural immunity defenses within the body to control the growth of cancer cells.
For certain types of breast, gynecological, and prostate cancers, hormonal treatment might be used to prevent hormones from stimulating the growth of cancer cells.
John Muir Health consistently participates in clinical trials of new systemic treatments to ensure our patients are constantly receiving the best options available for treating cancer.
Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM