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Our doctors have access to all the chemotherapy drugs our patients may need, with more than 100 approved agents now available. Our options include:
T-DM1 Also called trastuzumab emtansine, T-DM1 combines the targeted therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) with the chemotherapy agent DM1, allowing for a stronger dose with fewer side effects. It is approved for certain breast cancer and in clinical trials for other uses.
Chemoradiation We give chemotherapy at the same time as radiation, which can prove more effective for some cancers.
Liposomal Chemotherapy We give some oral chemotherapy drugs in a dissolvable casing to slow their release, allowing the agent to last longer and easing side effects. We do this most commonly for breast, pancreatic and gynecologic cancers.
What Is Chemotherapy?
Since different chemotherapy drugs destroy cancerous cells in different ways, we often recommend using them in combination. The precise selection depends on:
The type of cancer
Whether you have had chemotherapy before
Your ability to tolerate it given your age and overall health
Chemotherapy drugs may also come in different forms (though unfortunately, there is not usually a choice):
Intravenous (IV) line: IV infusions are the most common way to give chemotherapy, usually in a clinic. A nurse uses a needle to carefully tap a vein, then hooks you up to a tube (catheter) and a chemotherapy solution. We can also temporarily implant a small portal if you prefer, or when your veins become too fragile or irritated from use.
Orally: You receive pills, capsules or liquid to swallow, which you can often take at home with specific instructions.
Injection: Like a flu shot, a nurse injects the chemotherapy into muscle or fat, most commonly for prostate cancer. (Learn more about prostate cancer.)
Topically: A chemotherapy cream is applied directly to your skin, sometimes with bandages (chemowrap) for certain skin cancers. (Learn more about skin cancer.)
Directly into the body: During intra-arterial (IA) chemotherapy, we place the drug(s) directly into the artery feeding the tumor. We sometimes do this for liver cancer. (Learn more about liver cancer.) During intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy, the drug(s) is placed directly into the peritoneal cavity containing the stomach, liver, intestines and ovaries. We may do this for ovarian cancer that has spread, for example. (Learn more about ovarian cancer.)