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Cancer Treatments

Hendrick Health has two state-of-the-art cancer facilities that offer advanced systemic therapies and radiological treatments. Hendrick Cancer Center is located in Abilene at Hendrick Medical Center and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood Walker Cancer Center is located in Brownwood.

Systemic Therapy

Systemic therapy or treatment refers to any cancer treatment that targets the entire body. These treatments are used to fight multiple areas of cancer at one time. Types of systemic therapy include chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.


Chemotherapy, also called "chemo," is a drug treatment plan that uses powerful chemicals to destroy fast-growing cancer cells in the body. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. These chemo drugs can be used alone or in combination with other drugs to treat a wide variety of cancers.


Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. The immune system helps the body fight infections and other diseases and is made up of white blood cells, organs and tissues of the lymph system. As part of its normal function, the immune system detects and destroys abnormal cells and most likely prevents or curbs the growth of many cancers. Even though the immune system can prevent or slow cancer growth, cancer cells can avoid destruction by the immune system.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to target specific genes and proteins involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells. Targeted therapy can affect the tissue environment that helps a cancer grow and survive, or it can target cells related to cancer growth, like blood vessel cells. In order to be a candidate for targeted therapy, your cancer must have certain markers. Biomarker testing s done on the tissue sample taken during the biopsy.

Treatment schedules for chemotherapy vary. The duration of your chemotherapy treatment depends on:

  • The type of cancer diagnosed and its advancement
  • The goals of the patient's treatment plan
  • The type of chemotherapy prescribed
  • How the patient's body reacts to the treatment
  • Often, chemotherapy treatment is given in cycles: A cycle is a period of chemotherapy treatment followed by a period of rest, so the body can build new, healthy cells

Treatment Schedules and Side Effects

Treatment schedules and side effects vary widely depending on the type of cancer and treatment being received. To ensure our patients have minimal side effects to treatment, supportive medications are prescribed prior to starting systemic therapies. One-on-one education sessions with our nurse navigator also provide the patients and their family members with knowledge to ensure they are prepared and their questions are answered. During this visit, the nurse will explain the treatment schedule, as well as the possible side effects and how they can be relieved.

With an on-site pharmacy, your waiting time for treatments will be minimized. Treatment will then be administered by one of our trained oncology nurses in our Infusion Suite. Our Cancer Centers employ only registered nurses who have special training in oncology. These nurses are not only experts in their field, but they also treat each patient with a warm, caring attitude.

Radiation Therapy

At low doses, radiation is used as an X-ray to see inside the body and take pictures. Radiation used in cancer treatment works in much of the same way, except that it is given at higher doses. Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is a cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing and dividing.

S-rays, gamma rays, electrons, and other types of radiation are given during radiation therapy. The source of the radiation might be an electrical linear accelerator, an electrical orthovoltage unit or radioactive materials such as cesium. The method of radiation depends on the location and type of condition being treated.

Hendrick Health’s Radiation Treatment teams are made up of experienced individuals including radiation oncologists, medical physicists and dosimetrists, oncology-certified nurses and radiation therapists. Our dosimetrist and medical physicist work closely with doctors to optimize each treatment plan. Radiation fields and dose calculations are customized specifically for the type and extent of each patient’s disease. The team as a whole is in constant contact to ensure the most effective treatment is given, while protecting healthy cells and helping patients through another step of their journey.

Surgical Oncology Specialties

When patients require surgery for diagnosis or treatment, their physician coordinates the treatment with one of Hendrick Medical Center’s general or specialized surgeons. Surgeries may include removal of the tumor, biopsy (including computer topographic directed biopsy) and laser tumor resections.

In conjunction with Hendrick Cancer Center and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood Walker Cancer Center, Hendrick Health provides broad inpatient oncology services to cancer patients. A dedicated oncology unit at Hendrick Medical Center allows patients to receive care which includes the administration of low dose radiation brachytherapy, complex chemotherapy, along with pain and symptom management.

Hendrick Health’s interdisciplinary cancer teams work together with Hendrick Medical Centers to coordinate the best care to cancer patients and to their families.

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