Chemotherapy is medication used to treat and prevent recurrence of cancer by killing cancer cells. It is a form of cancer treatment often used in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation therapy. When chemotherapy is indicated as part of the necessary treatment plan, it will be prescribed by you gynecologic oncologist.
Chemotherapy is supervised by the doctors at Alaska Women’s Cancer Care and given at the infusion center located just one floor below the office in the Cancer Center.
The doctors at Alaska Women’s Cancer Care work closely with Medical Oncologists all around Alaska, so chemotherapy can also be given closer to home if you live outside the Anchorage area or already have a Medical Oncologist.
Chemotherapy will be tailored to your specific needs and you will receive information about your treatment before it begins. Chemotherapy medications can be categorized into classes.
- Cytotoxic Chemotherapy refers to traditional chemotherapy medication that non-specifically targets cells that are dividing and growing.
- Biologic Agents are newer medications that target specific molecular or cellular targets that are only on some of your cells, and generally the cancer cells or blood vessels that supply the cancer.
- Hormonal medications are also often used in the treatment of gynecologic cancers.
For more detailed information about specific medications, please visit one of these informative websites.
There are many ways in which these drugs can be given and all of these ways are available under the supervision of the Alaska Women’s Cancer Care doctors. Your doctor will recommend the best way for your specific cancer.
- Intravenously (in your vein): The most common way that chemotherapy is given, it often requires an indwelling port that is placed before you start treatment.
- Intraperitoneal (in your abdomen): For ovarian cancer chemotherapy can be given in a port that delivers chemotherapy directly into the abdomen. These ports can be placed at the time of your surgery or shortly thereafter.
- Orally: Rarely, some chemotherapy medications are taken as pills by mouth.
Clinical Trials are a critical part of finding new chemotherapy options and identifying better ways to give chemotherapy. Not only may you be able to get a medication that may be more effective for your specific cancer, you will help others who get treated after you by adding to what we know about how best to treat cancers.
We have a number of clinical trials available to our patients though the Providence Cancer Center supervised by the doctors at Alaska Women’s Cancer Care. Talk to your doctor about which trials may be right for you. We also encourage you to look at the National Cancer Institute website to search for trials that may be open here in Alaska or anywhere in the country and ask your doctor about any trials that interest you.