Chemotherapy & Infusion Cancer Care in Anderson, SC
Like other cancer patients, you may fear chemotherapy. After all, chemotherapy is typically depicted as an unpleasant experience – one defined by hair loss, fatigue, and intense nausea. But at AnMed Health Cancer Center, we strive to make chemotherapy as comfortable as possible by providing nationally-recognized treatment options from compassionate medical providers.
To learn more about our chemotherapy infusion treatments, contact AnMed Health online or give us a call at 864-512-4675.
What Is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more anti-cancer drugs. During chemotherapy, or “chemo,” these drugs attack fast-growing cells. Unfortunately, these drugs cannot distinguish between malignant cells and healthy cells. Therefore, the primary goal of chemotherapy is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible while causing the least amount of harm to healthy tissues.
When Is Chemotherapy Used?
The type of chemotherapy drug recommended by your doctor depends on the type of cancer you have and how much it has grown. Sometimes, chemotherapy is the only cancer treatment needed. More commonly, however, chemotherapy is used alongside other treatments. For example, oncologists often use chemotherapy after surgery or radiation to help kill any remaining cancer cells.
Chemotherapy can be very effective in shrinking tumors, making them easier to remove in surgery. It is also effective in reducing symptoms caused by advanced-stage cancer. Your AnMed Health cancer care team will determine if chemotherapy is appropriate for you.
Have more questions about our chemotherapy treatments? Call AnMed Health at 864-512-4675 or contact us online.
How Is Chemotherapy Administered?
Chemotherapy drugs can be given in a variety of ways. The administration method depends on the specific drug being used. Some chemotherapy drugs are more effective if given intravenously, for instance. Others are best taken orally.
- Common administration methods include:
- Chemotherapy Infusions
- Chemotherapy is most commonly given intravenously. This method allows the drug to rapidly enter the bloodstream and then be absorbed throughout the body. IV infusions can last a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the type of drug.
Doctors will sometimes recommend that a port-a-cath, commonly referred to as a port, be installed. A port is a small, implantable reservoir with a catheter that is threaded directly into a large vein above the right side of the heart. This port eliminates the need for constant needle sticks.
Some chemotherapy drugs can be taken by mouth. This administration method is convenient since it can be done at home. However, chemotherapy drugs can irritate the stomach lining, causing nausea and vomiting.
A doctor may recommend chemotherapy shots to a patient who has experienced gastrointestinal symptoms after taking chemotherapy pills. Chemotherapy shots may be administered subcutaneously (right below the skin) or intramuscularly (deep in the muscle tissue). Injections absorb faster than pills but slower than infusions.
Certain kinds of skin cancer can be treated using topical creams.
To provide a more targeted approach, some doctors recommend intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Intraperitoneal chemotherapy infuses chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity through a port. Chemotherapy can also be infused directly into the chest cavity (intrapleural chemotherapy), central nervous system (intrathecal chemotherapy), or bladder (intravesical chemotherapy).
Outpatient Oncology Infusions
At AnMed Health, we pride ourselves on offering a warm and comforting environment for cancer care. Outpatient infusion services are provided on the third floor of our AnMed Health Cancer Center, a facility that offers:
- 24 infusion bays
- A dedicated lab
- Pharmacists specially trained in oncology that reduce wait times for patients
- Highly trained staff and expert physicians specializing in oncology and hematology
- A comprehensive cancer program that provides a full range of services and resources
- Personalized cancer treatment plans
Cancers Treated With Chemotherapy
Our oncology specialists consider chemotherapy an effective and reliable treatment option for many different kinds of cancer. Learn more about the use of chemotherapy in treating:
Head and Neck Cancer
Chemotherapy Infusion Side Effects
Chemotherapy uses very strong drugs to target cells that grow and divide quickly, like cancer cells. Unfortunately, however, the drugs affect other fast-growing cells like those of the skin, hair, digestive and reproductive systems, and bone marrow. This can lead to unwanted side effects.
The most common side effects of chemotherapy are:
- Hair loss
- Easy bruising
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite changes
- Mouth sores
- Numbness and tingling
- Skin and nail changes
- Kidney problems
- Mood changes
- Inability to concentrate
- Sexual dysfunction
The severity of these side effects varies. Some cancer patients will only experience fatigue, a symptom that occurs when bone marrow struggles to make enough red blood cells. Other patients will experience long-term side effects like nerve damage and fertility issues. Your AnMed Health oncologist will discuss these potential side effects with you before you begin your chemotherapy treatment.
You should contact your cancer care team immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:
- A high fever or intense chills
- Bleeding or unexplained bruising
- A rash
- Pain or soreness at the chemotherapy injection site
- Unusual pain
- Long-lasting diarrhea or vomiting
- Bloody stool
What to Expect From Chemotherapy Treatment
Though every patient’s chemotherapy experience is unique, treatment typically begins with a consultation. During this meeting, your oncologist will discuss when and how often you need chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is often given for a specific period of time, such as six months or a year. However, you may receive chemotherapy for an extended timeframe to prevent or delay the cancer’s return. This is called maintenance therapy.
Since chemotherapy relies on very powerful drugs, treatment must be paced out in cycles. For example, if your doctor recommends a four-week cycle, you may receive chemotherapy on the first, second and third days of the month. Then, for the next 27 days, you will not receive any drugs. This gives your body’s healthy cells time to recover. The cycle will repeat for as long as the doctor sees fit.
Some cancers must be treated more aggressively with less recovery time between cycles. This is called a dose-dense schedule. Your AnMed Health cancer care team will determine the appropriate schedule for your cancer type and stage. As you receive chemotherapy treatments, the team will also monitor the treatment’s effectiveness through CT scans, tumor marker tests, blood tests, and other tools.
If a lesion continues to grow or cancer begins to spread, your doctor may determine that chemotherapy is not an effective treatment method for you. In this scenario, he or she may recommend other treatment options like surgical intervention or radiation therapy, a treatment that uses radiation to precisely target cancer cells.
Chemotherapy Cancer Care at AnMed Health
At AnMed Health Cancer Center, medical infusion services are located on the first floor and outpatient infusion services are located on the third floor. Our beautiful facility offers a soothing and private environment for patients. The center is staffed by nurses trained in chemotherapy and infusion. We also have a financial counselor to assist patients with financial issues and provide resources as needed.
Outpatient Infusion is open Monday to Thursday from 8am to 4pm and Friday from 8am to 3pm. For more information, call AnMed Health at 864-512-4675 or contact us online.
Chemotherapy Infusion FAQs
How long do I need to have chemotherapy?
The duration of your chemotherapy treatment will depend on the type and stage of your cancer. Typically, however, a course of chemotherapy takes between three to six months.
Is chemotherapy painful?
Though IV chemotherapy should not cause any pain, the anti-cancer drugs do cause side effects. The most common side effects are mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.
How quickly does chemotherapy work?
It depends on your cancer type, stage, and individual response to chemotherapy. During your three to six-month course of chemotherapy, your doctor will continue running diagnostic tests, like CT scans and tumor marker tests, to measure the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. If the cancer is not responding to the drugs, a different treatment plan may be adopted.