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Medical Oncology

Chemotherapy uses strong drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Sometimes it works to cure the disease by destroying cancer cells and preventing their return. It can also be used to control cancer by slowing its growth or the potential to spread to other body parts. Chemo is often a successful treatment option for relieving pain and other symptoms of advanced cancer.

There are many chemo drugs being used to treat cancer. Depending on your cancer type, stage, location and other factors, your treatment plan may involve one drug or several. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as radiation or surgery.

Chemotherapy can be administered in a few different ways. The most common method is intravenously, where a needle is inserted into a vein and attached to an IV bag containing the drugs. This is also called infusion. Some chemotherapy is given orally, in pill or liquid form. Less common forms of chemo include injection, topical (applied directly to the skin), or direct placement into a specific body cavity.

You can receive chemotherapy during a hospital stay or in an outpatient setting. You may receive treatments on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Chemo is usually given in cycles, with breaks between treatment sessions. This allows your body to rest and rebuild healthy cells, and gives you a chance to regain your strength. The total length and schedule of your chemotherapy will depend on your cancer type, your treatment goals and how your body responds to the drugs.

What about chemo side effects?

If your doctor suggests chemotherapy as part of your cancer treatment, you may be worried about side effects. The powerful drugs that target cancer cells can also affect healthy cells and cause unpleasant symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss and mouth sores. Some patients will not experience any side effects at all.

There is no way to predict with certainty how you may respond to a certain chemotherapy drug. Your dedicated Vidant Health care team will be there every step of the way, monitoring the effectiveness of your treatment and providing supportive services to help prevent or manage these side effects during your therapy.

What can I expect from treatment at Vidant Health?

Vidant Health cancer care includes the two most common methods of chemotherapy – IV and oral.

At Vidant Health, our goal is to offer the highest quality of care possible for our cancer patients. We do this by focusing not only on the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, but also on improving the quality of everyday life for our patients and their families. We offer the most advanced treatments in comfortable settings, no matter where you live in our region of care.

Our providers are professional and compassionate and take the time to fully understand your case and your life so that we can develop the best personalized treatment plan for you. They work with you and with each other to make sure all aspects of your care are covered. Our doctors, nurses and other caregivers have been carefully selected and trained. Many hold advanced certifications in cancer care and all have significant experience with chemo and/or infusion therapy.

Other Therapies

Vidant Health also offers immunotherapy and targeted agents as part of our cancer treatment program.

Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. These drugs – different from chemotherapy medicines – can boost the immune system in several ways, including changing the way cancer cells grow, stopping the process that makes a normal cell cancerous, making cancer cells more susceptible to destruction by the immune system, etc.

Targeted agents are drugs or other substances that treat cancer by disrupting the process that causes normal cells to become cancerous. Unlike standard chemotherapy, targeted agents are designed to act only on cancer cells and not affect normal cells. Some cancers that have responded well to targeted therapies include lung, gastrointestinal, melanoma, sarcomas and breast. Targeted agents are one of the largest areas of focus in cancer research today, and it is believed that many of our best future advances in cancer treatment will come from this field.

Your Vidant Health cancer care team will discuss your specific treatment options in great detail with you and your family. The therapies included in your care plan will depend on many factors, including the type and stage of your cancer, your general health, your response to previous treatments and more.

Always close to home.

Chemotherapy is available at these Vidant Health hospitals:

  • Vidant Beaufort Hospital/Marion L. Shepard - outpatient
  • Vidant Chowan Hospital - outpatient
  • Vidant Medical Center/Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center – inpatient & outpatient
  • Vidant Roanoke Chowan Hospital – outpatient
  • The Outer Banks Hospital - outpatient
  • Vidant Duplin Hospital - outpatient
  • Vidant Edgecombe Hospital - outpatient