Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment options are more plentiful than ever. At CHI Health Cancer Care, patients have access to the most advanced cancer treatment close to home. Our cancer treatment services include surgery, medical and radiation oncology, interventional radiology, treatment modalities, dedicated inpatient and outpatient cancer centers and a wide array of support services.

  • Surgery may be performed by a general surgeon or by a doctor who specializes in treating the involved area of the body. It often is performed to remove or reduce the size of the tumor or to restore appearance and function after a tumor has been removed. Secondary therapies are used to further eradicate cancer cells. 
  • Chemotherapy  (cytotoxic agents) is special medication that prevents cancer cells from dividing and growing.  Chemotherapy can sensitize tumor tissue to radiation and increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment. There are more than 100 different types of chemotherapy drugs today which can treat most cancers. They may be prescribed by a doctor called a medical oncologist (hematologist/oncologist).
  • Cryosurgery (cryotherapy) destroys a tumor by freezing it using a thin metal probe. The probe is guided into the tumor and then very cold gasses are passed through the probe to freeze the tumor, killing the cancer cells. This method may be used to treat larger tumors than other techniques.
  • Hormone suppression therapy may be given to control hormones that can accelerate growth of some cancers.
  • Immunotherapy uses the body's own defense system to attack cancer cells in the body.
  • Genetic testing  helps doctors target chemotherapy more accurately. Testing for genetic mutations can help identify cancer patients who will or will not benefit from specific types of chemotherapy. Genetic testing may be performed before or after surgery to determine if someone has a positive gene for a certain type of cancer.
  • Targeted therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression. By blocking signals that tell cancer cells to grow and divide uncontrollably, targeted cancer therapies can help stop cancer progression and may induce cancer cell death through a process known as apoptosis. 

Cancer Imaging Technologies

Angiography

A contrast substance is injected into the arteries to enhance visibility, an X-ray is used to assess blood flow and determine the location and size of tumors. This information is used to plan therapy.

Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT)

Is helpful in diagnosing and treating cancer. CT scans show bones, organs and soft tissues more clearly than standard x-rays. They are useful in helping physicians find cancer, because the images can be enlarged to make it easier to see areas of concern. CT scans can show a tumor’s shape, size and location, and even the blood vessels that feed the tumor – without surgery.  A CT scanner also can be used to help the physician guide a small needle to remove a tissue sample. This is called a CT-guided biopsy. In cancer treatment, a CT scanner can be used to guide needles into tumors for radiofrequency ablation (using heat to destroy a tumor). 

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) 

Is another essential diagnostic tool. A contrast agent containing glucose, a form of sugar, is injected into to a vein and travels throughout the body. Cancer cells absorb high amounts of this sugar because they have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells. A special camera can then spot these cells. A PET scan is useful when the physician thinks the cancer might have spread but does not know where.
CT and PET scans help physicians detect cancer, evaluate the extent of disease and select the most appropriate treatments. By comparing scans done over time, doctors can determine if the therapy is working and detect any recurrent tumors. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

Takes pictures using radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. This test can be helpful in looking at the brain and spinal cord. MRIs can be more uncomfortable than CT scans because they take longer and you need to lie in a narrow tube while the test is done. CHI Health offers the option of “open” MRI, which is less confining.

Ultrasound 

Is a wand or probe gives off high-frequency sound waves, (above the level detected by human ears), is placed on the skin or into a natural opening to take pictures of the inside of the body. The pattern of their echoes produces a picture called a sonogram, which is displayed on a screen. A gel is often put on the skin first. This test is described in the Breast Ultrasound section above, but ultrasound can also be used to look for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.