Advanced Cancer Treatment Options and Services
In April 2012, Saint Anthony’s Cancer Center of Excellence was granted the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Learn More
Saint Anthony's Health Center provides cancer treatment including surgical treatment and chemotherapy, so you can have your treatment in Alton, Illinois -- close to home for you and your family.
It is important to note that different cancers require different treatments based on the type of cell involved, the location of the tissue involved, and the extent of the disease. Among the methods that may be utilized to stop uncontrolled cell division during the course of a treatment are: altering the body's immunity toward cancer cells; destroying the cancerous cells, surgically removing cancer cells; and/or halting cells' ability to divide.
Often, surgery is the first treatment for tumors which are located in a specific part of the body. Once tissue is diagnosed as cancerous, surgery may be used to remove the tumor, or cancerous portion of tissue, from the body. A segment of the surrounding healthy tissue is also removed to aid in the ultimate goal, which is complete removal of the cancer.
Surgery is performed by surgeons on the medical staff of Saint Anthony's Health Center. Also, exploratory surgeries, or biopsies, are often used as a means for diagnosing cancer.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs carried through the bloodstream in an effort to kill cancer cells. Throughout the course of treatment, a patient may receive one drug or several drugs in combination. Hormone treatments may also be used with certain types of cancer to help control or reverse the growth of cancer cells. The main focus of a treatment plan is to destroy the maximum number of cancer cells. Most of the treatments work by damaging the cells' ability to divide, and some of the drugs kill cells in specific phases of their cycle.
Chemotherapy drugs are very precise. They are highly specific to the type of cancer being treated and to the individual receiving care. Some drugs may be in tablet form and can be taken orally. Other drugs are injected into the tissues, much like immunizations. Most chemotherapy drugs, however, are infused into a vein through an IV.
Approximately one-third to one-half of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy, an effective way to treat many kinds of cancer in nearly any part of the body. Radiation therapy may also be used to relieve some symptoms of cancer, such as pain, headache or bleeding. Radiation therapy utilizes x-rays generated from machines called linear accelerators to create chemical changes within the tumor cells. These x-rays are aimed at the cancerous cells in an effort to prevent the cells from continued division. Eventually, this kills the cells.
In our Radiation Oncology department, you will receive radiation therapy from our state-of-the-art linear accelerator - the Varian 2100 C/D. This machine produces a choice of photon (x-ray) or electron beams. Included is the choice of two energies of photon and five energies of electron beams.
Radiation therapy is a carefully planned and monitored process. An enormous amount of work is involved behind the scenes before a patient has his/her first treatment. Our Radiation Oncologists use information gathered from x-rays, MRI and CT scans, bone scans, etc., to determine where the radiation should be delivered. Through the use of the latest 3-Dimension treatment planning systems, CT data can now be reconstructed into a 3-D model of the patient. This allows the physician to locate and treat disease with better visualization and accuracy than ever before. This new technology can provide for more complex treatment regimes and aids in protection of healthy tissue.
Radiation may also be given in the form of placing radioactive materials in sealed containers next to cancerous tissues. This is known as brachytherapy. Also, in certain instances, radioactive substances are injected into the bloodstream or taken by mouth to treat specific types of cancer.
Summary of Services
In summary, various treatment methods are sometimes used in tandem as "combined modality therapy" to increase effectiveness. For example, combined modalities can assist you when cancerous tissue is surgically removed, and then a plan of chemotherapy is introduced in an effort to prevent recurrence of the cancer. In addition, a cancer could be attacked by destroying cells with both chemotherapy and radiation.
Whatever the blend of treatments, combined modality therapy is a carefully planned course of care -- supplied by a team of Medical Oncologists and Hematologists, Radiation Oncologists and Surgeons -- specifically designed to suit your particular treatment needs.
Cancer Treatment Research Studies
Saint Anthony's Cancer Center of Excellence is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society to offer cancer patients the opportunity to participate in Clinical Trials. Patients who choose to participate in a Clinical Trial are offering to help make the cancer experience better for future cancer patients and possibly find a cure. There are numerous trials available, and our Oncology Nurse Coordinator / Clinical Research Associate can help patients find one that is right for them.
For more information, call 618/474-4855.