Chemotherapy

The Samuel Oschin Cancer Center's outpatient infusion center provides chemotherapy and supportive services 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a beautiful and comfortable setting. Because the treatment area is always open, the center can accommodate working patients' schedules, as well as care for patients' urgent or unexpected needs. Certified oncology nurses (OCN), who are familiar with each patient's history and can offer support and ways to manage symptoms, are always available by telephone. 

Flooded with sunshine and filled with trees and plants - even aquariums, the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center offers 18 private rooms for treatment sessions six hours or longer. Designed more like a hotel than a hospital, each treatment room has a bed, private phone, bathroom, television, VCR and seating for visitors. Rooms have curtains and doors providing patients with varying levels of privacy depending on their desires. For those patients who require shorter sessions, our facility is equipped with 16 comfortable recliner chairs, each outfitted with a DVD laptop computer. Patients may choose from a variety of DVDs and CDs for visual and audio entertainment.

The goal of chemotherapy is to return the patient to health by systemically treating known and microscopic cancer. The center offers targeted therapies, specifically designed to focus on the location and treat the type of cancer each patient has. Chemotherapy is usually given for six to 12 months, with periods of treatment and periods of rest when the blood counts are allowed to return to normal.

Different types of chemotherapy are used, depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Intravenous chemotherapy normally takes two to six hours, but with hydration, premeds, blood infusions, etc., it can take up to 23 hours. For example, outpatient stem cell patients routinely stay most of a day, going home only for a few hours. 

If the cancer is advanced, a systemic approach to chemotherapy is used because the cancer may have spread (metastasized) from one location to another. Each cancer tends to travel to specific organs, systems or bones.

Where the cancer started is important because different treatment is needed if the cancer starts in one area instead of another. For example, patients who have brain metastases will receive different drugs if one of them started as breast cancer and the other began as lung cancer.

This is sometimes difficult to understand because it is often the metastasis that is causing the problem (e.g., prostate cancer patients have a lot of pain from bone metastases, but the prostate was either previously removed or not currently giving them any trouble). As a result, patients can end up seeing the wrong doctor for a consultation.

While some chemotherapy regimens are well tolerated, others are not. As a result, some patients will need more support. Nauseous patients might need fluids. Patients whose blood counts drop after treatment and who develop a fever might need to receive antibiotics in our outpatient setting, instead of being admitted into the hospital. Patients who need blood products after chemotherapy to treat anemia or to avoid a hemorrhage can receive the therapy comfortably and privately at the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center.