Medical Oncology

Medical oncology uses chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapies to destroy cancer cells in a tumor that may have spread throughout the body from the original cancer site. All medical oncologists are physicians trained in internal medicine with special training in cancer treatment.

Oncology is an integral part of the Carson Tahoe Medical Group.


More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy. For millions of people who have cancers, this approach helps treat their cancer effectively, enabling them to enjoy full, productive lives. Furthermore, many side effects once associated with chemotherapy are now easily prevented or controlled, allowing many people to work, travel, and participate in many of their other normal activities while receiving treatment.

Chemotherapy may consist of a single drug or a combination of drugs to fight cancer cells by stopping or slowing their growth. It can be given in a variety of ways such as through a catheter in a vein or an implanted port in the chest, injected into a body cavity, or in the form of a pill by mouth. Known as systemic therapy, it travels through the body to find ad attack cancer cells; in some instances, it may also attack healthy cells causing side effects such as hair loss.

Being informed about chemotherapy and its potential side effects can help you to proactively manage your own care and optimize your treatment and outcome. Please call the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center if you have any questions about your treatment.

Chemotherapy and You is written for you - someone who is about to receive or is now receiving chemotherapy for cancer. Your family, friends, and others close to you may also want to read this book. This book is a guide you can refer to throughout your chemotherapy treatment. It includes facts about chemotherapy and its side effects and also highlights ways you can care for yourself before, during, and after treatment.

Hormonal Therapy

Hormones are naturally occurring substances in the body that stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive tissues, such as the breast ovaries, testicles or prostate gland. Hormone therapy, also a systemic therapy, prohibits cancer cells from receiving or using the hormones they need to grow.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is one that is designed to treat only the cancer cells and minimize damage to normal, healthy cells. Cancer treatments that target cancer cells may offer the advantage of reduced treatment-related side effects and improved outcomes. Advances in science and technology have led to the development of several different types of targeted therapies. Each of these new treatments targets cancer through different mechanisms:

  • Anti-angiogenic drugs starve the cancer cells of blood that they need to survive and grow.
  • Monoclonal antibodies can locate cancer cells in the body by recognizing proteins that are more abundant in cancer cells than normal cells, called receptors. The monoclonal antibody may then cause its anti-cancer effect by blocking the receptor from binding with substances in the blood. Treatments that block receptors may also be called "receptor antagonists".
  • Radioactive monoclonal antibodies are comprised of a radioactive substance attached to a monoclonal antibody, the latter of which acts as a homing device, and the radioactive substance kills the targeted cell.
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors interact with the enzyme (protein) tyrosine, which is active in a complex signaling system that is used by some cancers as a survival mechanism to allow them to grow out of control. The drug Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) is an example of this type of targeted therapy that inhibits a mutated form of tyrosine kinase and stops the abundant growth of cancerous white blood cells in chronic myeloid leukemia.
  • Vaccines are made from a patient's own cancer cells and stimulate the body to recognize and attack cancer cells.