Chemotherapy & Infusion Therapy
Sutter Cancer Center Treatments & Services
The most common of all cancer treatments, chemotherapy drugs fight cancer by killing cancer cells directly, much as an antibiotic fights infection by killing bacteria. A chemotherapy drug may be given alone or combined with other drugs or therapies to treat cancer directly, shrink tumors before surgery or alleviate symptoms of a disease. It is common for patients to receive chemotherapy in cycles that allow the drug to act and the body to recover before another dose is given.
How patients receive chemotherapy varies, though cycled treatments are delivered most often through a process called infusion. Sutter Cancer Centers offer Infusion Therapy Services in Sacramento, Roseville, Davis and Auburn. Additional delivery methods available at Sutter Cancer Centers include medications delivered by mouth, injection under the skin or into muscles, injection or catheter into the cerebrospinal fluid, and directly into the abdomen by catheter. Sutter Cancer Center, Sacramento also offers the innovative Sugarbaker procedure that combines heat with chemotherapy to improve cancer cells' susceptibility to the drug.
Most forms of chemotherapy are systemic treatments that send drugs into the bloodstream for delivery throughout the body, reaching cancer cells that may have traveled (metastasized) beyond the original tumor site. Though effective, the drawback to systemic action is that drugs designed to kill rapidly multiplying cancer cells can affect other cells that multiply quickly, such as blood-forming stem cells, hair root cells and gastrointestinal cells. As a result, patients often experience side effects that range from mild to severe and can include infections, fatigue, hair loss and nausea. Sutter Cancer Center staff is very aware of the challenges patients and families may face during chemotherapy. The centers offer extensive support services, including Patient and Family Counseling and Support Groups, Oncology Nutrition Counseling and an exceptional range of Classes and Support Groups to help patients and their loved ones address emotional and spiritual issues.
More information about chemotherapy treatments is available under specific cancers listed in the cancer topic of our Health Information Library. Additional information is also available from the National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov and the American Cancer Society www.cancer.org.