A Little About

Our Treatments
and Services

Following a diagnosis of cancer, the first and most important step in evaluating and discussing your treatment options with your doctor is to determine the correct stage of your cancer –
how far cancer has spread.

Preparing for Your Visit

Your anxiety about your treatment can be alleviated in part by asking your doctor pertinent questions. We advise you to print out and bring the questions below to your first appointment. You can write the answers down during your appointment and refer to them later.

  1. What is my diagnosis?
  2. What stage is my cancer?
  3. Has the cancer spread?
  4. What outcome can I expect, and what are the risks and benefits of my cancer treatment?
  5. What are your recommendations for my treatment options?
  6. What will my cancer treatment schedule be and how long will treatment last?
  7. What chemotherapy medications will I be taking, what side effects can I expect and how will they be managed?
  8. Should I eat before I come for chemotherapy treatment?
  9. Continue to take my regular medications? Avoid medications such as Tylenol, aspirin, Ibuprofen or others?
  10. Are there any restrictions on my activities?
  11. Who should I call if I have a problem?  Daytime number? Nighttime number?
  12. What resources and/or support groups are available to help me deal with my illness?

 

Optimizing Your Treatment

Being diagnosed with cancer can leave you feeling overwhelmed and fearful. But you do not have to face this situation alone. Patients can work closely with their doctors to select the best treatment and include family and friends in a health care team. The entire staff of Midnight Sun Oncology is here to help you achieve the best possible health and cope with the challenges of treatment. Being diagnosed with cancer does not necessarily mean you will die from cancer. Even if your cancer cannot be “cured,” we can almost always significantly improve the length and quality of your life with treatments.

There are many things you can do to positively impact your health and state of mind during treatment. Good nutrition, physical exercise and sharing your experiences can help you feel better, both physically and emotionally and can also decrease the effects of chemotherapy.

Remission

Remission, a term used to describe the effectiveness of cancer treatment, means that cancer has disappeared and can no longer be measured using existing technology. Partial and complete remission are terms oncologists use to describe partial or complete disappearance of cancer after treatment. If remission is not obtained, cancer cannot be cured; however, a remission does not always ensure that cancer is cured.

The best ways to evaluate the benefits of treatment are to examine the duration of remission, survival and disease-free survival (cure). Remission rates can be useful for comparing therapies when patients have not been evaluated long enough to know whether the chance of cure or survival is improved.

Cancer Treatment

Following a diagnosis of cancer, the first and most important step in evaluating and discussing your treatment options with your doctor is to determine the correct stage of your cancer – how far cancer has spread. (Some cancers, such as leukemia, may not be staged). Each stage of cancer, from 0-4, may be treated differently. Generally, the lower the stage, the better the treatment prognosis (outcome).



Surgery

Surgery is the only way to ‘cure’ most (non-blood) cancers. It is the cornerstone of solid tumor oncology and will almost certainly be involved to some degree in your treatment. Common surgical procedures in oncology include biopsies, excision of the primary tumor, lymph node sampling and medical port placement/removal.



Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is systemic anti-cancer therapy. It is the primary treatment for most blood cancers and has a variety of roles for many non-blood malignancies. With early-stage solid tumors, chemotherapy is often given either before and/or surgery to maximize the chance of a cure. For metastatic tumor disease, it is given to improve the length and quality of a patient’s life. Most chemotherapy is given intravenously, but pills and subcutaneous injections are also available. Potential side effects and toxicities of chemotherapy will be discussed later. To learn more about chemotherapy drugs and managing their side effects visit: www.chemocare.com and www.cancer.gov.



Biological Therapy

Biological therapy also referred to as immunologic therapy, immunotherapy, or biotherapy, is a type of treatment that uses the body’s immune system to facilitate the killing of cancer cells. Types of biological therapy include interferon, interleukin, monoclonal antibodies, colony-stimulating factors (cytokines), and vaccines.



Radiation

Radiation, like surgery, is a local treatment. It is used as a primary modality for a cure, in the adjuvant setting, and for palliation. Radiation is often given alone, but can also be given concurrently with chemotherapy. Typically, radiation is given for a short period of time, Monday through Friday, for a number of weeks.



Hormonal Therapy

Hormone therapy, similar to chemotherapy, is a systemic treatment in that it may affect cancer cells throughout the body. Naturally occurring substances in the body, hormones stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive tissues. Therefore, drugs that block hormone production or change the way hormones work, and/or removal of organs that secrete hormones, such as the ovaries or testicles, are ways of fighting cancer.



Targeted

Therapy

A targeted therapy is one that is designed to treat only the cancer cells and minimize damage to normal, healthy cells, thereby reducing treatment-related side effects and improving outcomes. The future of oncology may be in identifying genetic abnormality and the ability to target it. Targeted cancer therapies may be more effective than current treatments and less harmful to normal cells, however researchers agree that targeted therapies are not a replacement for traditional therapies.

Chemotherapy Goals

Cancer treatment varies depending upon the type and stage of cancer, your overall condition, as well as the goal of treatment: to cure, keep from spreading, or to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer to improve quality of life. You and your physician will consider all of these factors to select the optimal treatment plan.

Comparing cancer treatments, understanding the goals of specific therapies, as well as the risk and benefits they pose, will help you decide which treatment is most appropriate for your situation. The potential benefits must be balanced against the risks of treatment within the context of the overall goal of receiving cancer therapy. Some drawbacks or risks posed by various cancer treatments may include time away from family and friends, uncomfortable side effects of therapy and/or long-term complications or death. Other important considerations are length, convenience and location of treatment.

Chemotherapy Protocols

Adjuvant chemotherapy is given to cure cancer. It is administered after all the “known” disease has been removed surgically, but the chances of recurrence are high. Adjuvant chemotherapy is typical high dose and high intensity for a pre-established number of cycles.

Induction chemotherapy is given to induce a remission. Commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias. Consolidation chemotherapy is given to sustain a remission. Commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is given before surgery. The goal of neoadjuvant treatment is to make an inoperable malignancy operable. Other indications are for making a less invasive surgical procedure possible. It is commonly given for breast, lung, esophageal, head and neck, and rectal carcinomas. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is often given concurrently with radiation.

Palliative chemotherapy is given specifically for symptom management to improve quality of life, control the disease, and prolong survival depending on the specific clinical setting.

First line chemotherapy

Cancer treatment varies depending upon the type and stage of cancer, your overall condition, as well as the goal of treatment: to cure, keep from spreading, or to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer to improve quality of life. You and your physician will consider all of these factors to select the optimal treatment plan.

Comparing cancer treatments, understanding the goals of specific therapies, as well as the risk and benefits they pose, will help you decide which treatment is most appropriate for your situation. The potential benefits must be balanced against the risks of treatment within the context of the overall goal of receiving cancer therapy. Some drawbacks or risks posed by various cancer treatments may include time away from family and friends, uncomfortable side effects of therapy and/or long-term complications or death. Other important considerations are length, convenience and location of treatment.

Second line chemotherapy

Second line chemotherapy is given if a disease has not responded or has reoccurred after first line chemotherapy.

Maintenance chemotherapy

Maintenance chemotherapy is given in lower doses to assist in prolonging a remission.

Side Effects

Your cancer treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or some combination of all of these or other therapeutic options. Unfortunately, cancer treatments may also damage normal, healthy cells, resulting in side effects. These side effects occur because most cancer treatments cannot distinguish between cancer cells and normal, healthy cells. For example, chemotherapy damages rapidly dividing cells, a hallmark trait of cancer cells. In the process, healthy cells such as blood cells and hair follicles, that rapidly divide, are also damaged.

Thus, hair loss and low blood counts are expected with certain types of cancer treatment. Fortunately, there have been vast improvements in cancer treatments over the years, resulting in the prevention and control of many side effects. Some side effects are very challenging but are short-term and not damaging to your health, however others may be serious and require treatment or may even be fatal. Unfortunately, side effects may also prevent doctors from delivering the prescribed dose of therapy at the specific time and schedule of the treatment plan.

This can negatively affect the expected outcome since therapy is based on delivering treatment at the dose and schedule of the treatment plan. Any treatment involves potential risks and it is not possible to anticipate all side effects. Midnight Sun Oncology patients receive a booklet with information on how to best manage side effects. It is important to keep your doctor informed about side effects that you experience. Prior to beginning treatment, patients should be aware of these potential side effects and keep your doctors informed if you experience them during treatment:

  • Acute reaction to the drug
  • Low white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets
  • The possible need for blood transfusion
  • Increased risk for infection
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding
  • Hair loss
  • Sore mouth/throat nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation
  • Secondary malignancy
  • Serious damage to tissues around the injection site (skin extravasation)
  • Sexual effects and reproductive/fertility problems
  • Permanent disability and potential death
  • Organ damage affecting the brain, eyes, ears, lungs, heart, liver, kidney/bladder, nerve, muscles, bones, etc.

Midnight Sun Oncology

 

 

Monday – Thursday 8 am – 5pm  | Friday – 8am – 4pm

Mat-Su Regional Medical Center Plaza I - 2490 S. Woodworth Loop #499 Palmer, AK 99645

Make an Appointment at (907) 746-7771

Fax: (907) 746-7798