Browse By Topic: Hematologists and Oncologists | Treatments | Clinical Trials | General Tests
At New Hope, your treatment will be custom designed for your unique circumstances. Treatments vary widely depending on the type, location, and stage (how widespread) of the cancer as well as individual factors such as age, health, and personal preferences. Your doctor will recommend the treatment plan that he or she feels will be most effective and will discuss all the available options with you.
Oncologists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of cancer. They work to analyze and treat “abnormal tissue growth” or tumors that are commonly known as cancer. Before becoming an Oncologist, a doctor must first specialize in Internal Medicine. Within that field, he or she will focus specifically on cancer by studying two to three more years after completing their medical degree, internship, and residency. When many of their peers have already begun practicing medicine, Oncologists are still gaining knowledge and clinical experience to prepare themselves to deal with the complexities of cancer treatment.
Oncologists treat all types of cancer, for example cancers of the lung, colon/rectum, breast, and prostate are most common. In addition, oncology is an ever-changing discipline. Oncologists must constantly keep up-to-date with the latest discoveries in this dynamic field. This is an exciting time in the treatment of cancer as a result of the tremendous volume of research going on around the world. Every day, new discoveries lead us closer to unlocking the mysteries of cancer. At New Hope, not only do our doctors keep abreast of the latest findings, they also contribute to the field with ongoing research studies called clinical trials.
Hematologists are physicians who specialize in the study of blood as well as the tissues that form blood (for example, the bone marrow or lymphatic tissue). As with the field of Oncology, these doctors must first specialize in Internal Medicine and then go on to further refine their study to Hematology, a sub-category within the broader field of Internal Medicine. Two or more years of additional study are required before a doctor can become a Hematologist.
New Hope’s doctors are both Hematologists and Oncologists and are uniquely qualified as experts on blood-related cancers, the spread of cancer through the blood, and cancer treatments delivered by way of the bloodstream. Some of the most common blood-related cancers are leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. In these types of cancers, previously healthy blood-producing cells become malignant (mutated), and begin to grow out of control. The malignant cells then begin to get in the way of the production of healthy blood cells (including white blood cells), making it difficult for the body to protect itself against infection and disease. The good news is that there are promising new options being developed that offer hope for the improved diagnosis, care, and treatment of blood-related cancer.
Cancer treatment is rapidly changing. We are no longer offering the same therapy for every individual with the same type of cancer. Rather, through increased understanding at the molecular level of what is causing cancer and the genetic differences between individuals, oncologists now provide a more "personalized cancer treatment". Furthermore, the type of cancer, stage of cancer, goals of treatment, and a patients overall condition are extensively looked at to determine what will be your best therapy to achieve a life that remains fulfilling and productive.
The side effects of these treatment modalities are more tolerable for patients. They are in fact preventable or controllable with a host of supportive medications that will be given by your oncologist. Our goal is to allow you live a life that provides you with enjoyment, fulfillment, and productivity. You can even return to work while undergoing treatment if desired.
Stem Cell Transplant/Bone Marrow Transplant
Although less commonly used today, it still remains the treatment of choice for high risk or recurrent leukemia, lymphomas, and other bone marrow disorders. On occasion, it can be used for recurrent solid tumors such as testicular cancers. SCT can be done with either the patient's stem cells or a donor's stem cells depending on the disease being treated. Using this form of therapy, allows the clinician to treat a patient's disease with high doses of chemotherapy to completely ablate the bone marrow. Once successfully completed, the stem cells or precursor bone marrow cells can then be infused which will ultimately repopulate the bone marrow and provide normal, healthier cells.
This form of therapy has been used to treat malignancies since the birth of oncology. In the last 15 years, the availability of different agents to treat different malignancies has increased exponentially. Chemotherapy essentially kills cells that are rapidly dividing which are cells of the tumor but also cells of hair follicles and the gastrointestinal tract. Chemotherapy remains the mainstay of successfully treating most oncologic diseases. IT can be given either orally or intravenously. We now have a variety of agents to choose from which are less toxic than the older drugs.
Biologic Therapy refers to the use of biologic products to restore host immune responses to tumors. They mimic the body's natural defense against tumors to give a more robust response and ultimately kill more the of the tumor cells. Biologic therapy is often used in renal cancer, melanoma, and certain sarcomas, among others.
Targeted therapy is a type of medication that blocks the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted molecules needed for tumor growth, rather than by simply interfering with rapidly dividing cells. Targeted cancer therapies can be more effective when combined with chemotherapy and less harmful to normal cells. It too can be given orally or intravenously. This area of oncology is rapidly exploding and we will soon see a plethora of targeted therapy type drugs for most cancers. Currently, this form of therapy is widely used in hematologic malignancies, lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, renal cancer, brain tumors, and head and neck cancers.
It has long been known that certain tumors are stimulated by the hormones that are naturally produced in our bodies. Prostate and breast cancer are such tumors. Decreasing the effects of testosterone and estrogen on prostate and breast cancer respectively has been shown to decrease the rate of its growth and recurrence. Most hormonal therapies are given orally but can also be given via injection or intravenous forms.
Often abbreviated to XRT, radiation therapy involves using ionizing radiation to control malignant cells. It can be used as primary therapy or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or hormonal therapy. High energy rays are given either externally or internally to a patient's tumor which help damage and kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy is typically given to early stage tumors. There are many types of radiation therapies used today including external beam radiation, gamma knife radiation, brachytherapy, proton therapy, among others. Your radiation oncologist will discuss the type that is best for your cancer.
Surgery can be used for curative purposes in treating early stage cancers. If your tumor is localized, surgeons will attempt to remove it if medically and surgically feasible. With the information obtained from pathology, the oncologist will be able to better determine your stage and your prognosis. In most cases, additional therapy will be required after surgery.
If your tumor is widely metastatic, surgery can still be used for curative or palliative purposes. This is determined by the type of cancer and site of metastasis. Sometimes, specific symptoms are best treated with a surgical approach as well. This will again help restore you to a productive life. Your oncologist can tell you more about the options available to you.
More development in oncology has occurred in the last 20 years compared to the last 60 years! This has been made largely possible by enrollment of patients in clinical trials, which essentially evaluate the efficacy of new drugs.
We are currently screening potential patients to participate in clinical trials for the following indications:
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Metastatic Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
If you have any questions, or are interested in receiving more information, please contact the research staff at 909-620-5502.
Each trial is designed specifically to test either the efficacy of a new drug or combination of drugs or the method of delivery. There are trials being conducted throughout the nation for virtually every tumor type. Participation in a clinical trial does not mean that you are receiving sub standard therapy. Everyone enrolled in a clinical trial will receive therapy that has been proven to work plus the benefit of an additional agent(s).
We offer a variety of clinical trials through the Pomona Valley Cancer Center. We can also help you find trials at other centers if desired. Speak with your oncologist regarding participating in a clinical trial.
This too is an emerging field in oncology and focuses on lifestyle changes that can be made to help reduce the risk of cancer occurrence/recurrence. Your oncologist will discuss with you screening tests that are recommended for your sex and age group. In addition, there are specific diets and medications that can be used to help reduce the risk of certain tumors.
As always, certain lifestyle changes remain the mainstay of chemoprevention. Such changes include smoking cessation, reduction in alcohol consumption, healthier eating habits, and exercise. Your oncologist will give you data from recent studies that have shown how each of these factors can reduce your risk of cancer.
Cancer vaccines are an area too that shows great promise. Cancer vaccines help boost one's immune system to fight against infections that can cause damaged or cancer cells. Currently, there is a vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may order a variety of tests in order to determine the best course of action. These tests may include:
Barium X-ray – This type of X-ray is primarily used to take images of the digestive system. Depending on your situation, the Barium may be taken by mouth or given as an enema. The white liquid coats the inside of your digestive tract and helps illuminate any abnormalities in the esophagus, stomach, bowel, or rectum.
Bone Marrow Test – To determine if cancer cells are present in the bone marrow, your doctor may remove a tiny amount of marrow from the bone for testing. This test is most commonly used for cancers that affect the blood or bone marrow, but could be done for any type of cancer. The bone marrow sample is usually taken from the hip through a thin needle after a local anesthetic has been used to numb the area. This test is usually done in the doctor’s office as an out-patient.
Bone Scan – Bone scans (also called radionuclide scans) are pictures taken by special cameras. These “gamma cameras” are able to capture images from traces of radioactivity in the bones and joints. Prior to having a bone scan, a very small amount of a radioactive substance (called radionuclide) is injected into the bloodstream. There is a minor amount pain associated with the injection, but otherwise the scan is painless. The radionuclide collects in the bone in areas where there is more cell activity, called “hot spots.”
CT Scan – A CT Scan (sometimes called a CAT Scan) stands for Computerized Axial Tomography. It uses X-rays to take pictures of your body from all different angles. A computer puts the pictures together to create cross sections of the inside your body. The CT scan can give your doctor a very precise image (for example, how big a tumor is and where it is located in relation to major body organs).
Cystoscopy – Cystoscopy is another test that allows doctors to see inside the organs of the body. This is done using a cystoscope—a thin tube with a light and optic fibers. The doctor looks through an eyepiece to determine if there are any abnormalities in the tissue. This important test is often used for looking into the bladder but can also be used for the ovaries, kidneys, prostate, and other organs.
Endoscopy – An endoscopy is a test that literally takes pictures from the inside of the body. An endoscope is a long flexible tube with a camera and light on it. The endoscope can be swallowed in order to provide pictures of the esophagus, stomach, and other parts of the digestive system. The doctor may also use this type of test to take biopsies (samples) of abnormal tissue through the endoscope.
MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetism to create pictures of the inside of the body. Although noisy, the MRI is painless and has the advantage of not using X-ray radiation. For some parts of the body, it is superior to the CT scan, but for other images, it is not as beneficial. Your doctor will help determine which type of test is best for your needs.
PET Scan –Positron Emission Technology (PET) is one of the newest tools available for detecting cancer. Used initially only for brain scans, today PET scans are used for numerous types of cancer. Prior to the test, you will receive an injection of a chemical called a radionuclide that has been combined with a sugar. Since cancer cells are more active, they metabolize the sugar at a much faster rate than healthy cells do. The attached radionuclides then emit positrons, which the PET scanner can detect. In this way the PET scanner can create detailed images of cancerous activity inside the body.
Ultrasound – Ultrasound scans use sound waves to create an image of the inside of your body. The scanner gives off sound waves (inaudible to the human ear) and uses a microphone to pick up the waves as they bounce off the organs. The microphone is linked to a computer that turns the reflected waves into a picture.