Cancer Treatment Options
Receiving the best cancer treatment possible is important to you. At Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, advanced cancer treatment programs deliver the most precise and effective care and therapy available, including medical oncology and radiation oncology, while minimizing side effects.
Medical oncology is a cancer treatment method using medications. Chemotherapy is injected into a vein or given by mouth. Administered in specific cycles, medical oncology allows time for your body to rebuild normal cells that chemotherapy may damage.
A medical oncologist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of cancer with chemotherapy. This physician works with you to develop a care plan that is best suited for your situation. Chemotherapy works by wiping out rapidly dividing cancer cells. It also can destroy fast-growing healthy cells. This may cause side effects.
Your bone marrow's ability to make blood cells might decrease and cause:
You may not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues, which can leave you feeling tired or short of breath.
You may not have enough platelets, which are blood cells that play an important role in forming blood clots, to help prevent bleeding when you're injured.
You may make fewer white blood cells, which protect your body from infections. An elevated body temperature may be the earliest sign of an infection.
The lining of your stomach and intestines could become damaged from:
- Your body's ability to absorb nutrients from food and get rid of waste might be affected.
- Nausea and vomiting
Damage to your stomach and intestinal lining can cause nausea and vomiting.
Though less common, constipation can be a side effect of chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy targets rapidly growing cells, including healthy cells in your hair and inside your mouth. Effects can include:
- Hair loss
- This happens most often on the scalp, but your eyebrows and eyelashes may thin, too. Fortunately, hair loss almost always is temporary.
- Mouth sores
Damage to the cells in your mouth can create sores that make it difficult to eat and drink.
Sexual side effects may occur as well as overall effects on your body, such as fatigue.
It is a good idea to prepare a list of questions about side effects to ask your health care team to better prepare you for chemotherapy. Once you start treatment, it's important to tell your health care team about all the side effects that you experience. The earlier they know, the more likely they can prevent side effects from becoming serious problems.
The radiation oncologist will consult with you on the best therapy treatment for your type of cancer. Treatment types include image-guided radiation therapy, 3D conformal radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery and others. Learn more about radiation oncology.