Editor’s Note: In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,
specialty physicians from WVU Medicine/University Healthcare
Physicians have been featured every Monday in The Journal. The
fifth and final piece in this series is written from an
oncologist’s perspective. Matthew Page Jones, M.D. is Board
Certified in hematology and medical oncology. He is an assistant
professor with WVU Medicine and sees patients in both Berkeley and
MARTINSBURG — Oncology is defined as the study and treatment of
malignant tumors or cancer. An oncologist assists in diagnosing and
treating cancer. He or she helps to determine the best treatment
plan which may include surgery, radiation and/or systemic therapy
(chemotherapy). All patients are different and the treatment plans
are geared towards the best outcome for the patient. This article
will focus on chemotherapy treatment.
Chemotherapy drugs are medicines which destroy cancer cells
through a variety of mechanisms. They work by stopping the cancer
cell’s ability to grow and divide. A medical oncologist specializes
in determining what regimen (or schedule) of chemotherapy is
Three ways to deliver chemotherapy are:
¯ Intravenous (or IV) which uses a tube placed into a vein using
¯ Oral which are pills that are swallowed
¯ Subcutaneous injections into the skin.
Not every patient with breast cancer needs chemotherapy —
factors to consider before determining include:
¯ Type and stage of breast cancer. The stage of breast cancer
reflects the size of the tumor and if it has spread anywhere else
in the body.
¯ The ability of the patient to tolerate chemotherapy. Some
patients are elderly or may have other problems which would make it
very difficult for them to receive chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy can be given prior to surgery to shrink a large
tumor to make the surgery easier. This is called neoadjuvant or
preoperative chemotherapy. When given after surgery to reduce the
risk of the cancer coming back (recurrence risk), it is referred to
as adjuvant therapy.
A chemotherapy regimen or schedule refers to specific drugs
which are given at repeating intervals for a set period of time.
One drug or a combination of different drugs may be used.
Most patients are concerned with the side…
This article was originally published at the “Source” noted above and distributed by The Tutu Project for informational purposes only.