Oncology is the branch of medicine dedicated to cancer diagnosis and treatment. As a patient at Oncocare, you will have most of your treatment at one of our practices in Durban, Umhlanga or Hillcrest. We tailor your care to your specific needs, depending on the type of cancer you have.
Chemotherapy, also known as ‘chemo’, is the treatment of cancer using drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs target the cancer cells, cells that divide and grow quicker than healthy cells and prevents them from making more cells. Chemotherapy works throughout the whole body, destroying cancer cells more rapidly than it destroys healthy cells. However, the chemo can affect fast-growing cells such as hair, skin, intestines and bone marrow causing some of the side effects experienced during the treatment.
The goals of the treatment differ depending on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Sometimes, the goal is to cure cancer by destroying all the cancer cells and keep it from returning. In other cases, the treatment is used to slow down the growth of the cancer cells and prevent it from spreading. The treatment can also help ease the symptoms caused by cancer. Chemotherapy given to ease symptoms and slow growth is sometimes called palliative care. There are two ways the treatment can be administered, by mouth or intravenously (injection into a vein).
Radiotherapy is a targeted treatment for cancer that uses high-energy rays to disrupt the growth of cancer cells with the goal of killing them, slowing down growth and shrinking tumors. Radiation therapy can be used as the primary cancer treatment or in conjunction with other forms of treatment. Palliative radiation therapy may be used to shrink tumors and relieve symptoms when destroying all the cancer cells isn’t possible. The goal is to improve quality of life by reducing pressure, pain, and other symptoms. The course of treatment is usually administered over several days or weeks, coming in daily on an outpatient basis.Radiotherapy may be given:
Externally: The most common type of radiotherapy, the radiation is delivered from a machine outside of the body. It can be used to treat large areas of the body. A machine called a linear accelerator (or linac) creates the radiation beam for x-ray or photon radiation therapy.
Internally: You drink a radioactive liquid that is taken up by the cancer cells or you have radioactive material put in or close to the cancer cells. This includes brachytherapy, SIRT (selective internal radiation therapy) and radioactive iodine therapy.
Radiosurgery: This specialist type of external radiotherapy is used to treat certain tumors. No actual surgery takes place. Large, precise doses of radiation are focused on the tumor for a short time.
Hormone therapy works by blocking the effects of the hormones that some cancers use to grow. Cancers that respond to this type of treatment include breast, prostate, ovary and womb/endometrial.
Targeted therapy is the use of drugs to help stop cancer from growing and spreading. The drugs target specific genes or proteins found in cancer cells or cells related to cancer growth, making this treatment different from traditional chemotherapy. Target therapy is often used with chemotherapy and other treatments
Palliative care is specialised medical care concentrated on improving the quality of life of a patient. It focuses on preventing, managing and relieving the symptoms and side effects of cancer and treatment. It also provides support to people living with cancer, along with their family, friends, and caregivers. Anyone regardless of age or type and stage of cancer may receive palliative care before, after, and during treatment.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that fights cancer by boosting the body’s natural defences using substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. It helps the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells, stopping or slowing the growth and preventing cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.