Stumped by medical terms? On this page, Cary Cancer Center defines common medical terms you might be hearing to make them easy for you to understand. 

Medical oncology is a term that encompasses chemotherapy, biotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormonal therapy. These therapies work to destroy cancer cells or build up good cells.

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that directly attack and destroy cancer cells by eliminating the cancer cell's ability to reproduce or grow. Chemotherapy can be administered by IV, pill or by injection. Chemotherapy agents are frequently referred to as “anti-cancer” drugs. The length of chemotherapy treatment depends on the type of cancer being treated. Side effects of chemotherapy may include nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. Our caring staff will closely monitor side effects and tailor care for you.

Fractionated-Dose Chemotherapy
Because of the side effects of many of the anti-cancer chemotherapy agents, doses may be fractionated or broken up to decrease side effects.

Biotherapy / Immunotherapy
A powerful ally in the cancer fight is your own body. Biotherapy, also called immunotherapy, uses your own immune system as a treatment modality. Biotherapy helps to rebuild, strengthen and stimulate your immune system.

Biotherapy/Immunotherapy may be used to help boost the killing power of certain cells, (like the T-Cell), prevent cancer cells from spreading to other parts of your body, and enhance your cell's ability to recover from chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Hematopoietic Growth Factors
Hematopoietic Growth Factors help the body’s ability to grow more red or white blood cells. Following a bone marrow transplant, with cases of aplastic anemia or following certain chemotherapy regimes, red or white blood cells may need assistance in proliferation.

Interferons are group biotherapy. One of the hallmarks of interferon is that they “interfere” with the production of new virus particles. Interferons are classified as biologic agents or biotherapy. Used with some leukemia diagnoses, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Interleukins are cell-signaling molecules and are classified as biologic agents or biotherapy. Interleukins regulate inflammatory and immune responses and are often used with melanoma, lymphoma, leukemia or renal (kidney) cancer.

Monoclonal Antibodies
Monoclonal Antibodies are medicines that change the way that the body’s immune system works. In cancer, monoclonal antibodies target a specific protein in the cancer cells and stop them from growing. Monoclonal antibodies are common treatments for some lymphomas and breast cancer (Herceptin®).

Surgery is often the first line of defense in cancer treatment whether through biopsy or surgical removal of the tumor or affected organs. The James E. Cary Cancer Center does not perform surgeries but works closely with all surgeons in the area. We serve patients who have had surgeries at Hannibal Regional Hospital, the Northeast Ambulatory Surgery Center, and any surgeries in St. Louis, Columbia, and surrounding communities. We’ve served numerous patients who had surgeries out of state.

If post-surgical treatment is needed for your cancer type, treatment near home will save you considerable time, worry, and expense. The James E. Cary Cancer Center is ready to serve you.