Cancer Care > Medical Oncology

Medical Oncology

Why choose Wayne Health for Medical Oncology?

Wayne Health’s board-certified medical oncologists take a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing, treating and researching a variety of cancers.

Our medical oncology team practices at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Metro Detroit and one of just 51 centers of its kind in the United States. This gives patients access to advanced treatments, as well as clinical trials, cancer prevention programs and multidisciplinary teams of cancer physicians, researchers and educators working together to advance knowledge and treatment of cancer.

Our multidisciplinary approach combines the experience and knowledge of expert clinicians from several different fields to give our patients the best information, a thorough diagnosis and the most effective treatments based on individual needs. Team members includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, supportive care specialists, geneticists, nurses and other specialists. Patients are provided treatment options after their case has been discussed in multidisciplinary tumor board meetings.

Wayne Health Medical Oncology services offered

Based on your type and stage of cancer and genomic profile, your medical oncologist may suggest one or a few of these treatment options:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hormone (endocrine) therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy
  • Cellular therapy, including stem cell transplantation for various hematologic malignancies, CAR-T therapy for ALL/NHL/Mantle cell lymphoma and Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes therapy for solid tumors

Medical Oncology treatment programs are tailored to your specific disease, general health and personal goals and may be supplemented with other types of treatment, such as surgery or radiation therapy.


What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill cancer cells, also called cytotoxic drugs. It’s often called “chemo.” Different types of chemo help to treat many kinds of cancer. Chemo may slow cancer growth, stop cancer from spreading, or help get rid of the cancer altogether. Chemo may improve the outcome of surgery by killing remaining cells.

Chemo can also affect healthy cells along with the cancer cells. This is why chemo causes side effects, like nausea, vomiting, losing your hair, or feeling tired. It can also reduce the body’s immunity to infections. Different kinds of chemo will have varying side effects.

Chemo is usually given at different locations, such as a hospital, a doctor’s office, or a clinic. Sometimes chemo treatments may be done at home. You may get chemo in “cycles.” This means that you get a number of treatments over a set period of time. Then you take a break before you start again

What is immunotherapy for cancer?

Immunotherapy helps treat cancer by supporting the body’s immune system. This type of treatment can restore, boost, or redirect the immune system to fight the cancer cells. Immunotherapy for cancer includes medicines, immune cell therapies and anti-cancer vaccines.

  • Medicines include:
    • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
    • Cytokines, including interferons and interleukins
    • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Immune cell therapies include:
    • CAR T-cell therapy
  • Treatment vaccines include:
    • Sipuleucel-T


Neoadjuvant therapy

Neoadjuvant therapy is treatment given before having surgery. One of its major benefits is to convert tumors that are not possible to remove into surgically removable cancers.

Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy given before surgery to remove cancers of the breast, rectum, esophagus, pancreas and a few others. Additional chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy is usually needed following the surgery for the treatment of cancer.

The decision to use neoadjuvant therapy is usually made in a multidisciplinary tumor board meeting. Patients are encouraged to seek an opinion in situations where neoadjuvant therapy may provide potential added benefits to them.

Risk factors

In what ways can chemotherapy be given?

Chemo may be given in different ways. For example, chemo may be put into the bloodstream, put directly into an organ, or swallowed as a pill.

Chemo that goes into the bloodstream

Chemo can be given directly into a vein through an IV (intravenous) tube called a catheter. It’s usually put in your hand or lower arm. It allows the chemo medicines to go into your bloodstream and kill cancer cells throughout your body.

venous access device (VAD) is a thin tube used to give chemo medicines into a large vein. A port-a-cath, or port, is a type of VAD that allows easy access in the chest. It is a small, round disc that usually goes under the skin on your chest.

A port allows you to take several medicines at one time. And it makes it easier to get repeated chemo treatments over time. It also allows for chemo treatments to be given with fewer needle sticks in the skin.

A small pump is sometimes attached to a port. This controls how much medicine is given and how fast it goes in.

Most ports stay in place until the chemo treatments are finished.

Chemo may also be given as a shot (injection) in a muscle or under the skin. You may get the shot in your arm, leg or belly.

Chemo that you swallow

Some chemo medicines may be taken in pills, capsules or liquids that you swallow (oral). Only certain kinds of chemo drugs are available in this form. Sometimes this type of chemo can be taken at home.

Chemo given in a specific part of the body

Doctors may give doses of chemo in a certain organ or part of the body. This allows the medicines to go straight to the location of the cancer. This method also may cause fewer side effects.

The medicines may be put directly into:

  • An artery that leads to an organ, such as the liver, or another part of your body where the cancer is located
  • The fluid around the brain and spinal cord
  • An organ through a passage from outside of your body. For example, chemo can be put in the bladder through the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder.
  • An area that contains the cancer. For example, cancer of the liver or cancer of the abdominal lining may be treated by putting chemo into the abdominal cavity.
  • A tumor. A shot may be used for tumors under the skin.

Chemo that goes onto the skin

Chemo medicines may be mixed into a cream that you rub on your skin. This may be done to treat skin cancer. This treatment may be done at home.

Wayne Health's approach to treatment

On the day of your first appointment, you will meet with the appropriate Oncology team members. A team of physicians evaluates each of our patients, reviews all records, requests any needed additional testing, and discusses the information at a multidisciplinary team conference. After the team conference, a physician shares the team’s recommendations with you and your family members. If other testing is required, or if other specialists need to be seen as part of the proposed therapy, those appointments are arranged the same day or as soon as it is convenient for the patient.

Advancing research and medical education

Physicians and researchers at Wayne Health are also faculty members of the Wayne State University School of Medicine who partner with Karmanos Cancer Institute to conduct research and clinical studies. This makes the latest treatments and clinical trials available to you sooner than other health providers without a medical school affiliation.

For more information, please visit the links below at the WSU School of Medicine.