Medical Oncology

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s medical oncology team uses a comprehensive approach to help cancer patients find the personalized care and treatment they need. These services are primarily focused on destroying cancer cells, slowing the growth of cancer, preventing cancer from spreading to other parts of the body and/or reducing the symptoms of cancer. When a cancer cure is not available, prolonging one’s life is the main goal.

Medical oncologists are doctors who hold special training to diagnose, treat and provide health care for those with cancer. They often treat using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy. We provide medical oncology services in Baton Rouge, Covington, Gonzales, Houma, Slidell, and Opelousas. 

Our experienced team provides supportive and personalized care by working with specialists to ensure the most effective treatment plan for each patient. Oncology nurses and other team members, specifically trained in the needs of cancer patients, work with our medical oncologists to care for you before, during and after treatment.

Types of Treatment We Use

Often referred to as “chemo,” chemotherapy is the use of drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Chemo is most often administered as an infusion. It is sometimes used by itself to treat cancer, but a majority of the time chemo is part of a larger, comprehensive treatment plan that can also include surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Some cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer, use hormones to grow. Hormonal therapy, also called hormone therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy, is most often combined with other cancer treatments to help slow or stop the growth of the disease.
Targeted therapy drugs are designed to eliminate cancer by targeting the specific inner makeup of cancer cells, leaving healthy cells mostly unaffected. This differs from standard forms of chemotherapy that may interact with cancerous and normal cells. Although it may sometimes be used alone, targeted therapy is usually used in conjunction with other cancer treatments. Side effects from targeted therapy drugs differ from chemotherapy side effects.
Oral chemotherapy is a cancer-fighting drug given by mouth in tablet, capsule or liquid form. Today, many cancer patients receive oral chemotherapy as a treatment. It is a relatively recent development that provides for a more convenient, at-home option for eligible patients. These pills can be just as strong as the intravenous form of chemotherapy and have the same benefits and side effects as chemotherapy given by infusion. Over the past 20 years, more than 50 new oral anticancer medications have become available to treat many different cancers, including lung, breast, liver, leukemia, colorectal, melanoma, brain, kidney, ovarian and prostate. Patients taking oral chemotherapy drugs are under the direction of a medical oncologist. In addition, they meet individually with an Oncology Certified Nurse to discuss drug administration, side effects, and goals of treatment and receive monthly follow-up for compliance and symptom management.

Biological therapy uses substances derived from living organisms, naturally occurring in the body or lab-produced versions of those elements, to treat cancer. Antibodies, a type of biological therapy, target cancer cells directly. Other biological therapies, immunotherapies, boost the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. These do not directly target cancer cells.

Immunotherapy is an emerging option for treating cancer that harnesses an individual’s own immune system to recognize, control and potentially cure cancers. While standard treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy attack the disease itself, immunotherapy empowers the immune system to eliminate the disease.

Different forms of immunotherapy may be provided in various ways: treatment vaccines; antibody therapies or drugs received through injection, pill or capsule; a topical ointment or cream; or a catheter. The side effects of immunotherapy are often more manageable than those of traditional therapies. The Cancer Center offers a number of immunotherapy clinical trials for various types of cancer.

Infusion Centers

At Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we understand the diagnosis and treatment of cancer can be overwhelming, and our infusion care team is dedicated to your care and comfort. Our state-of-the-art infusion centers are equipped with superior technology, allowing patients to receive the most effective chemotherapy treatments in a single, convenient location. Our highly experienced and oncology-certified nurses provide compassionate, safe and high-quality care. With attentive and expert ambulatory infusion services, we strive to ensure every visit is an effective, positive experience. In addition, a variety of amenities* are provided for enhanced patient comfort during each visit, such as:
  • Heated chairs with USB ports
  • Headsets and Wi-Fi for mobile devices
  • Personal TV at each chair
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Soup, snacks and beverages
*Amenities vary by location. Other services offered may include blood draws, hydration therapy, intravenous antibiotic infusions, injections, pump disconnections and traditional intravenous chemotherapy infusions. 
To schedule or change a medical oncology treatment appointment, please call 1-888-501-4763.

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Because of donor support, pioneering treatments such as immunotherapy, stereotactic radiotherapy, leading-edge clinical trials and other advances are available at the Cancer Center. We continue to innovate and provide the highest level of care to patients thanks to generous supporters who help us deliver leading-edge science, medicine and technologies to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer for every patient we have the privilege of serving.