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Cancer Treatments

Hendrick Health has two state-of-the-art cancer facilities that offer advanced chemotherapy 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.

Chemotherapy

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.

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.

Visitors

Hendrick Cancer Centers allow each patient one visitor during their treatment. However, we ask that no visitors be under the age of 15.

Treatment Schedule

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

Missing a Treatment

We strongly discourage missing chemotherapy appointments. However, the doctor or nurse might change a patient's treatment schedule. This might be due to side effects that a patient experiences. If this happens, the doctor or nurse will explain what to do and when treatment will resume.

Possible Side Effects

Chemotherapy treatments sometimes cause side effects. These may be temporary and usually are well controlled. During an evaluation visit, the doctor or nurse will explain these possible side effects and how they can be relieved.

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.

Radiation therapy is given by using S-rays, gamma rays, electrons, and other types of radiation. 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 to destroy the cancer, while not only protecting healthy cells but also helping that person through another step of their journey.

Visitors

Visitors are welcome to accompany patients through the examination phase of the first visit. However, at all other times, visitors will be asked to stay in the reception area. Be assured the receptionist will keep visitors informed about treatment progress and let them know when the patient is ready to go home.

Treatment Schedule

On occasion, treatment will begin immediately following assessment. The assessment is a time when the doctor will discuss the patient's medical history and possibly do some imaging tests, while discussing what form of radiation will be the best treatment. Following the assessment, the patient will be scheduled for a treatment planning session called a simulation. After simulation, the first treatment session will be scheduled. Treatment schedules are usually scheduled 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, and last 3 to 6 weeks on average. The radiation oncologist determines the treatment schedule and evaluates the schedule through the course of treatment.

Missing a Treatment

Holidays, poor weather conditions, and physical health might cause the patient to miss a treatment. If missing a treatment is necessary, please contact the treatment center as soon as possible.

Possible Side Effects

Radiation therapy treatments sometimes cause side effects. These may be temporary and usually are well controlled. During the evaluation visit, the doctor or nurse will explain these possible side effects and how they can be relieved.

Follow-Up Visits

Our care for patients does not end with their last radiation treatment. Our radiation oncologists or the referring physician will see the patient as needed to discuss the effects of treatment.

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 28-bed 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 of cancer patients and their families based on their individual needs.