The three main types of treatment offered at the Enoch Callaway Cancer Center are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. These may be prescribed alone or in some combination.
Most cancer patients will receive some type of surgery. A biopsy may be used to determine whether or not a lump or mass is cancerous. During a biopsy, some or all of the tumor may be removed and sent to a pathologist for diagnosis. If surgery is recommended as a treatment option, a surgeon may remove all of the tumor and surrounding tissue.
Chemotherapy consists of medication administered orally or intravenously through an IV or the blood. Known as a systemic therapy because the cancer-killing drug circulates through the body, chemotherapy may utilize a single drug or a combination of drugs.
In addition to chemotherapy, other procedures including infusion of fluids, injections, administration of blood products, bladder instillation, endocrine testing and bone marrow aspirations are provided in the Ambulatory Infusion area.
Radiation therapy is the use of focused, high energy radiation beams used to kill cancer cells. Radiation destroys the DNA in cancer cells and prevents the cancer from growing. As the cancer cells die, the tumor shrinks. Some normal tissue may also be damaged but will eventually regenerate. Since radiation therapy is a localized treatment, it destroys only the cancer in the treatment area.
WellStar West Georgia Medical Center utilizes a state-of-the-art Varian Clinac iX Linear accelerator, which makes use of the sophisticated treatment techniques of Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT). This machine is capable of "sculpting" the beam of radiation, targeting tumors while leaving surrounding healthy tissues untouched.
In the early stages of cancer, more aggressive treatment, including any combination of the three treatment options may be used. For patients with advanced stages of cancer, palliative treatment may be prescribed to relieve symptoms such as pain, bleeding and shortness of breath.