The treatment of cancer with of drugs is either:
- chemotherapy – where drugs directly destroy the cancer cells, or
- immunotherapy – where drugs stimulate your own body to target the cancer
All of these drugs are now called Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT).
As the Northern Centre for Cancer Care is the regional treatment centre for the North of England, we treat a wide range of diseases and use some very complex SACT treatments. Some are not available in other more local cancer centres.
We have a dedicated team of expert staff who will take good care of you. We work closely with community nurses, GPs and Macmillan teams to ensure your care continues when you are at home.
How is systemic anti-cancer treatment given?
Chemotherapy and immunotherapy can be given in a number of different ways, depending on what kind of cancer you have, and how long you need treatment.
Most SACT is injected into a vein and then spreads through the blood stream to reach cancer cells in whatever part of the body they may be. Injecting the drugs into the blood stream can be done in a number of ways:
- one way is through a cannula, which is a fine tube inserted into a vein usually in the back of the hand or forearm. This tends to be for shorter cycles of treatment.
- a longer tube may be inserted through a vein in the arm or the chest. These can stay in place for the whole treatment course. This means you do not need to have a needle inserted into a vein each time you attend.
These longer tubes can be called:
- ‘Midline catheters’ are inserted in the arm
- ‘Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters’ (shortened to PICC line) are also inserted in the arm
- ‘Hickman lines’ are inserted via the chest
- ‘Portacaths’ are also inserted via the chest
If a longer line is more appropriate for your chemotherapy you will be given full information about it.
Some SACT are given by a subcutaneous injection (in the fatty layer between the skin and muscle), and some are taken orally. These treatments may not be given on Ward 36 but rather on one of our other units.
Who will look after me?
A consultant clinical oncologist is a doctor who specialises in treating cancer with drugs and radiotherapy. A consultant medical oncologist specialises in the use of drugs only. The oncologist will decide what treatment you need to have, and will review you regularly. Consultant haematologists lead the team in deciding what treatment is best for you.
Nurses will be available to help look after you and offer advice, support and any nursing care you may need.
Clinical nurse specialists
There may be a clinical nurse specialist working with your team who can give you expert advice about the type of cancer you have.
Specialist palliative care team
The Specialist Palliative Care Team consists of nurses (sometimes called Macmillan nurses), doctors and social workers, all of whom are experienced and trained in specialist symptom control. They also offer advice and support for patients and their families.
Reception staff/scheduling team
The reception staff welcome patients, family and carers to Ward 36 (our day unit) and provide a friendly and helpful support service to all. The scheduling team will contact you with any changes to your appointments.
There are many other people who can help you too. Sometimes you may want to talk to a dietician, speech and language therapist, clinical psychologist or physiotherapist. Or perhaps a social worker who can help with practical matters such as the financial benefits you might be able to claim. Just ask a member of our staff.
All of our team is committed to providing high quality care to you, your family and carers. We are continually looking at ways to improve what we do and always welcome any comments, ideas or suggestions.