Chemotherapy / Immunotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs or medication to treat cancer. Cancer cells grow uncontrollably and may break away from their original site and spread to other parts of the body. Anticancer drugs disrupt the cells’ ability to grow and multiply. Anticancer drugs have proven very effective in cancer treatment and can be used alone or in combination with radiation and/or surgery.

Board-certified medical oncologists develop, coordinate, and monitor chemotherapy treatments and direct our oncology-certified nursing staff in administering the anticancer drugs. A certified oncology pharmacist works in the Schwab Family Cancer Center to review and prepare all medications. Also on the team are an oncology-certified social worker and clinical dietitian to assist patients and their families in understanding all aspects of care.

Immunotherapy (also called biologic therapy or biotherapy) uses a patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer by either boosting the patient’s immune system or giving man-made versions of the normal parts of the immune system. Immunotherapy is most often used along with or after another type of cancer treatment to boost its effects.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), monoclonal antibodies are the most widely used form of cancer immunotherapy at this time. Monoclonal antibody therapy uses antibodies that are made in the lab, rather than by a person’s own immune system. These treatments are often given in the outpatient setting but sometimes require admission to the inpatient oncology unit.