It takes a team of expert oncologists to fight a complex disease like cancer. Miami Cancer Institute’s oncology team members go beyond the standard of care as they compassionately assist you in your battle with cancer, using treatment options such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells and control their growth. Chemotherapy can be combined with other treatments to either shrink tumors before surgery or radiation or ensure all cancer cells have been eliminated following other treatment therapies.
In most cases, chemotherapy is administered intravenously (IV) through a thin tube (catheter) inserted into a vein. Other chemotherapy delivery methods include:
- Orally, in the form of pills or liquid
- Injection, into a muscle or below your skin
- Topically, in the form of a cream applied to your skin
- Intrahepatically, delivered to the hepatic artery, which sends blood directly into the liver
- Intraperitoneal, via injection into the abdominal cavity
- Intrathecally, into the fluid-filled space between the thin layers of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord
Our team helps you understand what to expect from chemotherapy and provides compassionate support throughout the treatment process. Side effects depend on the type of chemotherapy drugs used and vary from patient to patient. Most are temporary and will subside once treatment has ended. (Link the word “side effects” to the following pop-up window)
The most common side effects of chemotherapy include:
- Chemobrain – cognitive issues that include memory problems, trouble concentrating and other mental symptoms
- Increased risk of infection
- Increased sun sensitivity
- Numbness or weakness in the hands and feet
- Temporary hair loss
Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with genes or proteins involved in tumor growth while avoiding damage to healthy cells.
Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine, which uses information about a person’s genes or a tumor’s DNA profile to develop tailored treatment options. This innovation signals a shift from traditional treatments designed for the average patient, toward more precise therapies.
If you are a candidate for targeted therapy, your doctor may order tests to learn more about your tumor’s genetic disposition, protein composition and other factors. Your treatment schedule and delivery method – orally, intravenously or another mode – is specific to you and your cancer type. Targeted therapy may be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy.
Our cancer specialists are leading the way in innovative treatment methods to battle cancer. Among the treatment options available is immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune system to fight the disease. Because cancer cells are the body's own mutated cells, the immune system does not always recognize them as foreign. Immunotherapy drugs are designed to alert the immune system about these mutated cells so it can locate and destroy them.
Immunotherapies fall into three general categories:
- Checkpoint inhibitors disrupt the deceptive signals cancer cells send at certain “checkpoints” that tell the immune system they are not harmful, exposing them and triggering an immune system reaction. Checkpoint inhibitors may be used to treat melanoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and bladder, kidney and lung cancers.
- Cytokines are protein molecules in the body that help regulate and direct the immune system. Cytokines may be synthesized in a lab and injected in larger doses than the body would normally produce, prompting the immune system to attack unhealthy cells. This therapy may be used to treat circulatory cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, melanoma and bladder and kidney cancers.
- Cancer vaccines are administered to boost your immune system and protect against certain diseases, such as cervical, prostate and bladder cancers.
Some cancerous tumors are very efficient at angiogenesis – the process of creating new blood vessels. Angiogenesis inhibitors work to cut off the tumor’s blood supply and disrupt the growth process.
Hormone therapy usually involves taking medications that prevent cancer cells from receiving the hormones they need to grow. Your oncology care team would consider hormone therapy if you have breast, ovarian, prostate or thyroid cancer. The therapy typically is combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.