Medical Oncology and Immunotherapy
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Our board-certified physicians specialize in providing personalized cancer treatment via advanced hematology and oncology services. You are our number one priority, so our goal is to find the best treatment for you and to ensure your comfort and sense of well-being along the way. Your Nurse Navigator will connect you with resources and assist you throughout every step during your treatment with our oncology services.
Medical hematology and oncology services are located on the first floor of the Bennett Cancer Center. For your convenience, our office includes private exam rooms and dedicated treatment areas.
Our dedicated team of caregivers will always try to make you as comfortable as possible. We are here to guide you through the process and address any questions you might have. You are welcome to bring a family member or friend with you to your appointments, and they can remain in the waiting room while you receive your treatment.
What is chemotherapy and how does it work?
Chemotherapy, often called "chemo," refers to the use of certain medications to slow the growth of cancer cells or stop cancer all together.
Your Bennett Cancer Center oncologist will create a plan for your chemotherapy treatment, which will include your dosage of medication and how often you'll receive it. Usually, chemotherapy is given in a series of treatments called cycles. This can mean you'll be treated several times over the course of weeks, or months, with breaks in between for your body to recover and reproduce "healthy" cells.
How do I prepare for chemotherapy?
We understand how overwhelming the chemotherapy process can be. That’s why our dedicated team, and your Nurse Navigator, are here to make sure you’re prepared. To be sure you understand your specific treatment plan, we’ll invite you in for a teaching visit before your first actual treatment. At this appointment, your nurse will take you through:
- How the therapy is given
- What to expect during treatment
- What you can do to keep yourself feeling well and minimize possible side effects
- Scheduling your actual treatment time
We'll also give you a binder that contains important information for you to refer to after you leave. We encourage you to bring this binder with you to each of your appointments as we will add important information from time to time.
When you come to the office for chemotherapy services, we ask that you arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Once you have checked in at the front desk, you will be seated in the waiting room. Shortly after checking in, you will be called for your lab work, which is done in the lab adjacent to the waiting area. Typically, the time from check-in to the time you are ready for treatment is approximately 30 minutes.
Once we have the results of your lab work, a nurse or physician will escort you to an exam room to review your test results, discuss your progress and make sure you are ready to have treatment. At this time she will let our oncology pharmacists know to prepare your specific chemotherapy, and she will start your premedication, if necessary.
How are chemotherapy treatments given?
Our Treatment Suite offers 16 private rooms for those receiving cancer treatments, providing a warm, comfortable environment for patients and caregivers. Blankets and snacks are available for your comfort. Please feel free to bring reading material or an iPad or iPod with headphones. Most areas are also equipped with WiFi.
Because the privacy of all of our patients is so important, we ask that you limit the number of guests who accompany you.
What side effects will I experience from chemotherapy?
In the days following your treatment, you may experience some side effects. The most common ones are fatigue, changes in bowel habits and changes in the way food tastes. There are many ways to manage side effects, so please be sure to call and tell us if you’re experiencing discomfort at any time, even if it occurs days after treatment.
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy may be an important component of your individual cancer treatment plan. Our office is located on the ground floor of the Bennett Cancer Center adjacent to the atrium.
We are equipped with the latest technology, including state-of-the-art CT scan and linear accelerator machines, offering both intensity modulated and image guided radiation therapy for cancer treatment.
Our staff is standing by to deliver the compassionate cancer therapy services you deserve, as is ingrained in our Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care. Your Nurse Navigator will also connect you with everything you need, every step of the way.
Your radiation therapist works closely with our physicians, physicists, and dosimetrist to create the best plan for you, as well as ensure quality and consistency of treatment.
How do I prepare for my radiation therapy treatment?
- Your first visit is a consultation with your doctor. Together, you’ll review your information recommendations for both treatment and follow-up.
- Your second appointment is called a simulation. This can include marking your treatment area, having a CT scan, and discussing possible side effects. Following this visit, our team of caregivers will develop your specific treatment plan.
- The simulation is followed by a visit which is like a dress rehearsal for the treatment. You will be placed on the treatment table so we can confirm that the markings and planning are all correct and in place. Your treatment usually begins the day after this appointment.
What will my radiation therapy treatment plan include?
We’ll schedule your treatment for the same time every day. Depending on your specific diagnosis and treatment plan, we’ll generally administer your treatment five days a week over the course of two to nine weeks. If you’re receiving chemotherapy at the same time, we will conveniently coordinate your appointment with your visit to the medical oncology-hematology department.
What side effects will I experience from radiation therapy?
Within a few days, you might experience some side effects, the most common of which are fatigue and skin irritation. We can help address these and any other issues you might experience, so please give us a call if you are experiencing any discomfort.
What is cancer immunotherapy?
Cancer immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses specific parts of the immune system to fight cancer. This can be achieved in the following ways:
- Stimulating the immune system itself to better attack cancer cells
- Treating the person with components of the immune system such as proteins
Cancer immunotherapy one of the new ground-breaking treatments in oncology and hematology services. Older attempts to manipulate the immune system to generate beneficial results were generally unsuccessful. More recently it has been studied in many different types of cancers and offers patients an alternative to more traditional treatments like chemotherapy. It is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung, head and neck, renal, and bladder cancers.
How does immunotherapy work against cancer?
The immune system’s natural response to cancer cells is to attack and destroy them. However, these cells have found a way around this defense mechanism by expressing proteins that block the immune system from recognizing them as invading cells. Immunotherapy works by inhibiting these proteins, which then allows the immune system to be activated and attack the tumor cells.
One of the more commonly targeted proteins expressed on tumor cells is called programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1; another is cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein-4 (CTLA-4). The approved immunotherapies include: Keytruda (pembrolizumab), Opdivo (nivolumab), Tecentriq (atezolizumab), and Yervoy (ipilimumab).
What immunotherapy cancer treatments does Stamford Health offer?
We have many years of experience treating patients with cancer immunotherapies. Prior to its approval, we participated in clinical trials using immunotherapies and we now use it as a standard treatment for our patients. We have multiple open immunotherapy clinical trials available for our patients with melanoma, lung and breast cancers with new trials opening regularly. We have been amazed by some of our patient’s clinical responses to immunotherapy and look forward to treating more patients with this revolutionary treatment.