For patients requiring chemotherapy as part of their treatment, Pacific Gynecology Specialists has a chemotherapy infusion suite in the Seattle office staffed by three chemotherapy certified oncology nurses who provide chemotherapy. We are also affiliated with the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) so patients can receive chemotherapy at an SCI infusion center under the direction of a PGS provider. In addition, PGS physicians work closely with medical oncologists throughout the Puget Sound region and beyond so that patients can receive their treatments close to home.
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses medication to prevent cancer from recurring or to stop or slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. The duration and type of medications used depends on the type of cancer being treated, the goal of the treatment and how well your body responds to the treatment.
What are the types of Chemotherapy?
Depending on the type of cancer being treated, chemotherapy can be administered alone or together with other treatments. For example, chemotherapy may be administered before or after surgery or in combination with radiation therapy. An important advance is the development of new treatments that specifically target abnormalities associated with only cancer cells and generally not present or present in only low levels in normal cells. These newer treatments are sometimes referred to as biologic therapy and often associated with few side effects. Depending on the type of cancer being treated, chemotherapy is administered in one or several of the following ways:
- Intravenously (i.e. through an i.v. infusion that can last for minutes or several hours depending on the treatment)
- Intra-peritoneal (i.e. through a catheter inserted directly into the abdominal cavity. This approach has been demonstrated to be more effective for certain types of cancers)
- Orally in the form of a pill or capsule
- Injected under the skin (i.e. sub-cutaneously) or directly into a muscle or tumor site.
- Topical creams that are rubbed on the skin
When is Chemotherapy administered?
Depending on the type of treatment prescribed by your physician, when you receive your chemotherapy can vary. You may receive a treatment monthly, weekly or even daily. The treatment schedule generally includes a period of rest to give your body a chance to build healthy new cells.
What are the effects of Chemotherapy?
Since chemotherapy can sometimes harm healthy cells as it works to control or eliminate the cancer cells, patients are counseled on potential side effects. Today, many side effects of chemotherapy can be either prevented or controlled.
Since each person and treatment is different, it is difficult to predict how an individual patient will feel. Some patient may experience no side effects while others may have mild to moderate discomfort. Since healthy cells will generally recover, most side effects will go away. Many people experience minor or no symptoms keep their normal schedules at home or at work.
Common side-effects can include:
- Hair loss
- Lowering of circulating blood counts
What are cancer clinical trials?
Clinical trials test new treatments for cancer. By participating in a clinical trial you can try new treatments that may or may not be better than your current treatment. PGS physicians participate in a wide array of local, regional and national gynecological cancer treatment trials.