The Cancer Care Center
At St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center, our medical oncologists work closely with the other members of your medical team to deliver compassionate care that is unique to each patient. Your treatment may include chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy, also called “medical oncology,” is the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer. Chemotherapy is a systemic (body-wide) treatment, because the medicine affects the entire body, not just the cancerous site.
You may receive chemotherapy during your treatment process to:
- Cure the cancer. For some patients, chemotherapy is the only treatment necessary.
- Support other cancer treatments. You may receive chemotherapy in order to shrink the tumor prior to surgery, or to destroy remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation.
- Minimize the cancer, so it does not metastasize (spread) to other parts of your body.
- Relieve symptoms of cancer, called palliative chemotherapy. When the cancer is too advanced to be cured, chemotherapy may be used to help relieve some of the symptoms.
How is the Chemotherapy Given?
Chemotherapy is given in different ways, depending on each person and the kind of cancer. You may receive chemotherapy:
- through an injection
- intravenously (into your veins, through an IV)
- by taking a pill
- by receiving an injection into the fluid that surrounds your spinal cord or brain
St. Anthony's Cancer Care Center offers the most advanced and most effective chemotherapy treatments, including chemoembolization, a technique that pushes the chemotherapy drugs directly into the arteries to cut off the blood supply to the tumor. Without a blood supply, the tumor is destroyed.
Chemotherapy is often given in cycles, which means that you have a cycle of therapy, followed by a few weeks off to recuperate, and then another treatment cycle. Usually, chemotherapy is given on an outpatient basis. Patients at St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center come to our state-of-the-art Infusion Center, receive the treatment, and then go home when it is finished. You are encouraged to bring books or CDs to help pass the time during your treatment. Our dedicated chemotherapy nurses will walk you through the entire process and help make you as comfortable as possible.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Because chemotherapy is systemic, it harms the healthy cells in your body in addition to destroying the cancer cells. Side effects you may experience include:
- higher risk of infection
- tiring easily (fatigue)
- excessive bleeding
- nerve damage which may cause pain
- dry mouth
- mouth sores or swelling in mouth
- lack of appetite and weight loss
- upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea
- hair loss
Often, these side effects disappear completely with time.
The cancer nurses at St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center also will help you manage the side effects you may experience. They will educate you prior to your treatment, and be with you every step of the way. Speak up if you are having any discomfort or pain so our nurses can attend to you right away.
Once you return home, you should call your physician if you experience any of these symptoms:
- persistent nausea
Learn more: Talk to your doctor or nurse about what to expect from chemotherapy treatment.
For information about St. Anthony's Cancer Care Center - St. Louis, please call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
At St. Anthony's, our vision is to be the area's premier health care organization
— and your first choice for health care services.