Medical Oncology at Western
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Medical oncologists at CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center (Western) in Goodyear, Arizona are skilled in treating all types of cancer at every stage. Many patients initially come to CTCA for a second, or even third, opinion.
Our medical oncologists use advanced imaging technologies to examine how cancer is affecting the body so that they can develop your individualized cancer treatment plan. The oncologists encourage and expect you to ask questions because we believe in empowering you through knowledge.
What is a Medical Oncologist?
After meeting with an in-take physician or gastroenterologist during your initial visit, you may meet with a medical oncologist. A medical oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer via use of chemotherapy, and sometimes biotherapy as well.
Chemotherapeutic drugs are those which damage cancer cells at different stages in their growth process. Chemotherapy is usually delivered intravenously or taken orally. It may be administered alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery and/or radiation therapy.
If you and your care team decide that chemotherapy would suit your cancer treatment needs, you will visit the Infusion Center on the second floor of the hospital to receive treatments.
Biological therapies, or immunotherapies, send a signal to your immune system to fight cancer. This type of treatment is lesser known, compared with chemotherapy, but may provide an effective way of fighting cancer.
Your medical oncologist will evaluate you based on cancer type, stage, location, and symptoms alongside personal needs and lifestyle preferences. This will help to determine the necessary chemotherapy type, dosage, and scheduling.
Part of a Team
Your first stay at the Western hospital will last three to five days. During this time, you will meet with complementary medicine departments, such as nutrition, naturopathic medicine, oncology rehabilitation, spiritual support and mind-body medicine alongside conventional departments such as medical, surgical, or radiation oncology. This is part of our commitment to whole-person care that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit.
If you do meet with a medical oncologist during your first trip to CTCA, he or she will review your records including blood work or scans. Then, your oncologist will discuss potential treatment options with other members of your care team. On the last day of your initial visit, your care team will present you with a comprehensive treatment plan.
One of our expert oncologists, Dr. Richard Shildt explains, “When patients come for their first visit we meet with them, review their case thoroughly, and develop a personalized cancer treatment plan. During this initial visit, patients also meet with our complementary therapy departments because we work as a team across departments at CTCA.”
At CTCA, doctors from each conventional and complementary medicine department meet multiple times a week to discuss in-patients and actively treating out-patients. Dr. Shildt adds, “Patients choose CTCA because they feel comfortable here. They know they are in good hands and that the doctors are working together to fight the cancer.”
During your evaluation, your medical oncologist might suggest an Extreme Drug Resistance (EDR) Assay in order to develop a treatment plan. This tool is also referred to as chemoresistance and involves subjecting solid tumors outside of the body for resistance to certain chemotherapeutic drugs. The goal of the EDR Assay is to determine whether or not types of chemotherapy may be a viable treatment option.
Once your treatment plan is decided upon, your medical oncologist will closely monitor your progress. In order to do so, he or she may use tumor markers. Tumor markers (e.g., CA 125, CA 15-3, and PSA) are substances found in the blood, body fluids or tissues, which are produced by cancer cells. Tumor markers can be used to detect the presence of certain types of cancer in the body and to determine if your current treatment is working.
Chemotherapy Treatment Options
Metronomic (Fractionated-Dose) Chemotherapy: A form of chemotherapy treatment in which a standard chemotherapy dosage is divided into smaller doses and delivered more frequently, such as weekly or over a period of three to five days. This time-related administration of drugs is different from the single, large dose of standard chemotherapy on day one. Fractionated-dose chemotherapy can be used for virtually any solid tumor and is a common treatment option for metastatic cancer.
Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy (IAC): A type of regional chemotherapy in which anticancer medications are given directly to a tumor through a catheter placed in the artery that is the tumor's primary blood supply.
Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (IPC): A type of regional chemotherapy treatment in which anticancer drugs are delivered through a thin tube in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity to directly target cancerous cells in that area.
Chemoembolization: A type of regional chemotherapy treatment in which anticancer drugs are delivered directly into blood vessels that feed a tumor to embolize (or block) blood flow to the tumor and/or surrounding tissue. Without a blood supply, the tumor no longer has the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow.
Your medical oncologist may also suggest other related treatment options:
Chemotherapy/Drug therapy combinations - Sometimes chemotherapy is used in combination with other drug therapies to enhance its effects. For example, for bowel cancer, the chemotherapy drug Taxol may be used with Avastin®, a drug that ultimately shuts off blood flow to the tumor. Avastin® is an example of a standard biological therapy.
Biological therapies– Your care team may use monoclonal antibodies, interferons, and other drugs to support the immune system. Our naturopathic physicians also use natural therapies to boost the power of immune system cells (e.g., T cells) to attack cancerous cells.
Taking Care of the Entire You
Contact with your medical oncologist never ceases during the treatment process. He or she will monitor how your treatment is working out and attempt to limit potential side effects of anticancer drugs such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sore mouth, diarrhea, and constipation. We want your quality of life to be better and your entire care team takes every measure to help you tolerate treatments, stay active, and enjoy life.
Chief of Staff and medical oncologist, Dr. Joel Granick explains, “We believe in taking care of the whole person here – mind, body, and soul. Cancer Treatment Centers of America is known for what we call the Mother Standard® of care which means we take care of our patients as if they were one of our mothers, brothers, or sisters.”
Medical oncologists and other doctors meet with all hospital departments, including complementary medicine departments, three times a week to discuss inpatients and decide how to best serve them. Complementary medicine departments, such as naturopathic medicine, pain management, and nutrition therapy can play a large role in ensuring that you are comfortable and can complete your personalized treatment regimen.