Chemotherapy and infusion services in San Diego
Chemotherapy and infusion services in San Diego
Chemotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for many types of cancer. Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center offers advanced chemotherapy services throughout San Diego County, provided by experts who use the latest techniques to maximize effectiveness and comfort.
Our chemotherapy nurses have completed extensive training and education through the Oncology Nursing Society, and many Scripps clinical pharmacists have advanced training in chemotherapy preparation and treatment. Our care team provides each patient with a warm, comforting experience, while ensuring the highest quality care. Learn about the various types of chemotherapy, side effects and more in the content below.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy for cancer attacks cancer cells with drugs taken by mouth or given intravenously (infusion therapy).
Scripps MD Anderson medical oncologists specialize in chemotherapy and other infusion therapies to treat cancer. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, which means it travels throughout the body rather than treating one specific area as with surgery or radiation therapy. It may be used to:
- Kill cancer cells
- Shrink a tumor before surgery
- Relieve symptoms (also known as palliative care)
Depending on the cancer treatment plan, chemotherapy may involve a single drug or combination of drugs. It also may be used alone or in combination with other types of treatment. For example, chemoradiation (or chemoradiotherapy) combines chemotherapy and radiation.
How often chemotherapy is needed, and for how long, varies according to each patient’s needs.
What to expect from chemotherapy
Chemotherapy once required long hospital stays, but thanks to new medications, most patients now receive their therapy in an outpatient setting designed for comfort and convenience. Many infusion centers feature reclining chairs, private televisions and Wi-Fi.
Each visit to the infusion center includes a nurse assessment to determine how the patient is tolerating treatment. The visit also includes recommendations, educational materials and consultation with a pharmacist as needed.
Side effects of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy and other infusion treatments may produce side effects. These can vary greatly among patients, and not every patient who has chemotherapy experiences side effects.
Scripps nurses and pharmacists are experts at helping patients manage treatment side effects. Your physician may prescribe medications to prevent some side effects, such as nausea. Scripps also offers other services to support patients, such as cold-cap therapy to reduce hair loss and meditation to decrease anxiety.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common chemotherapy side effects include:
- Hair loss
- Bruising and bleeding
- Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite changes
- Mouth, tongue and throat problems, such as sores and pain with swallowing
- Nerve and muscle problems, such as numbness, tingling and pain
- Skin and nail changes, such as dry skin and color change
- Urine and bladder changes and kidney problems
- Weight changes
- “Chemo brain,” which can affect concentration and focus
- Mood changes
- Changes in libido and sexual function
- Fertility problems
In some cases, chemotherapy drugs may have long-term side effects, such as heart damage or fertility issues. Most people do not have long-term problems after treatment.
Talk to your cancer care team about which side effects are most common with your specific chemotherapy treatment and how best to manage them. If you experience severe side effects, your medical oncologist may adjust your treatment or take other steps to relieve your symptoms.
Types of chemotherapy and infusion therapy
In addition to conventional chemotherapy, Scripps medical oncologists use several other types of chemotherapy and infusion therapy to treat cancer. They include the following:
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a specialized procedure for treating cancer that has spread to the abdominal area. HIPEC treatment involves the direct circulation of chemotherapy drugs heated to 107° F (42° C) into the patient’s abdominal cavity for 90 minutes before surgical wounds are closed and treatment is completed.
Intraperitoneal chemotherapy (IP therapy)
Intraperitoneal chemotherapy (IP therapy) is a type of chemotherapy that delivers cancer-fighting drugs directly into the abdominal cavity through a port in the patient’s abdomen. It also gets into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body.
Transcatheter chemoembolization (TACE)
Scripps interventional radiologists implant tiny beads containing chemotherapy directly into tumors, and then use high-energy rays to attack cancer cells. Transcatheter chemoembolization may be used to treat liver cancer.
Topical chemotherapy applies a chemotherapy drug directly to the cancer via a cream or ointment. Topical chemotherapy may be used for very early skin cancers or precancerous artinic keratoses.
Targeted therapy uses drugs to identify and attack specific markers on cancer cells to eliminate them or at least slow their growth. Scripps medical oncologists may use targeted therapy drugs in combination with chemotherapy or other treatments.
Immunotherapy uses specific aspects of a person’s immune system to fight cancer, either by stimulating their own immune system to attack cancer cells or by strengthening the immune system with components such as immune system proteins. Some types of immunotherapy may be known as biologic therapy or biotherapy.
Scripps MD Anderson chemotherapy and infusion center locations
Scripps MD Anderson offers chemotherapy and other infusion therapies in a variety of locations throughout San Diego. Patients may receive treatment in any Scripps hospital, outpatient infusion center or in affiliated physicians’ office locations. Our specially trained physicians and nurses supervise all treatments.
Visit cancer care locations for details of each cancer hospital, clinic and specialty center.
Questions and considerations
If you have been diagnosed with cancer and your oncologist recommends chemotherapy, you may want to ask questions such as:
- What type of chemotherapy will I need?
- Will I take it by mouth or through an IV?
- How often will I need it?
- How many treatments will I need?
- What are the side effects? Short and long-term?
- How can I manage the side effects?
- Where do I go for chemotherapy?
- Will I have to miss work or school?
- Is this covered by my health insurance?
Your Scripps cancer care team can help you get the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment and take an active role in your care.