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Oncology

Oncology is the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Oncologists receive extensive, specialized training to care for patients. Treatments may include a combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, medication and/or surgery.

Compassionate cancer care

You are not alone in your cancer journey.

A cancer diagnosis can be unsettling, but at Mission Health, our cancer team has one, unified focus: you. Anchored by an individualized care plan, fighting your battle with us gives you access to the region’s largest network of cancer services.

Types of cancer we treat

Our medical oncologists have years of experience treating numerous types of cancers, including:

  • Anal cancer
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Blood cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Endocrine cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Gynecologic cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Tongue cancer

Oncology services we offer

Cancer care starts with getting to the root of your condition. Our specialists work to understand you and your personal circumstances, so effective treatment can begin.

Diagnostic cancer screenings

Detecting cancer as early as possible is the best way to set up your treatment process for success. Through education, regular screenings and acute screenings that follow an onset of symptoms, we are dedicated to getting you on the road to better health, quickly. Your potential type of cancer will ultimately dictate which type of testing we use, but some of the tests we offer include:

  • Biopsy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Mammograms
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Ultrasound

Cancer treatments and services we offer

Across the Western North Carolina region, our care network consists of numerous hospitals, dedicated cancer centers, radiation therapy clinics and imaging facilities. At these facilities, our multidisciplinary care teams assess and address your condition from every angle, using a variety of specialized cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, medication or surgery.

These dedicated teams of specialists include:

  • Gynecological oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Nurse navigators
  • Pathologists
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Surgical oncologists

Our care practices are wide-ranging, covering both traditional and experimental courses of treatment. This also includes open and minimally invasive surgeries. As always, whatever your condition requires, we are prepared to use the leading-edge services at our disposal to increase your positive recovery outcomes.

Cancer clinical trials

When it comes to more complex cancers, sometimes, traditional therapies are not fully effective. However, our experienced cancer care team is always exploring innovative techniques for cancer detection and prevention.

One of the ways we do this is through clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies conducted to answer important medical questions, with the hope of finding better ways to treat disease. They are used to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new or investigational drugs, combinations of new or existing drugs, as well as drug delivery methods.

Access to newer treatments is offered with the ultimate goal that they will be more effective than traditional solutions, offering hope when you may not be responding to existing therapies.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, also called chemo, is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Cancer cells grow and divide quickly, so chemo drugs aim to destroy them, to the point where your doctors can no longer detect them. Depending on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can:

  • Destroy cancer cells to the point where they never grow back
  • Block the spread of any existing cancer cells, while destroying ones that have spread to other parts of your body
  • Shrink incurable, painful tumors during the palliative care process, so you or your loved one is comfortable

Sometimes, chemotherapy is used as the only cancer treatment, but more often, you will get chemotherapy along with surgery, radiation therapy or biological therapy.

Genetic counseling

If you have a history of cancer in your family, you can ask your doctor if you may benefit from the help of a genetic counselor, someone with special training in medical genetics and psychosocial counseling. Our cancer hospitals provide access to these experienced professionals, and their findings can help you understand your familial history's impacts on potential cancer development. In addition to family history, factors genetic counselors will typically examine include your lifestyle, demographic, genetic and genomic characteristics.

Understanding genetic information that you may have inherited from your parents, as well as the genetic information of your tumor, will ultimately help us enhance your treatment. Applying the knowledge of your tumor's molecular characteristics will help our doctors be able to predict your body's response to certain anticancer drugs. Additionally, we can try to match the tumor's mutations to drugs that target those mutations, sparing nearby normal cells in the process.

Interventional oncology

Interventional oncology is used to help you when your cancer cannot be surgically removed or effectively treated with chemotherapy. Treatment options include radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and cryoablation, methods that eliminate tumors via heat and cold, respectively.

Some of our interventional oncology procedures include:

  • Chemoembolization
  • Complex biopsies
  • Drug-eluting bead embolization
  • Intra-arterial yttrium-90 radioembolization
  • Tumor ablation
  • Tumor embolization

Oncological surgery

Our goal is to provide you with life-saving cancer treatments that are as noninvasive as possible. In doing so, we prioritize chemotherapy and radiation treatments whenever possible. However, sometimes these treatments are not enough. In those instances, we recommend open surgery to fully remove cancerous tumors. If the decision is made to proceed with surgery, our surgeons work together to determine the appropriate procedure for your specific type of tumor and type of cancer, and we will discuss the procedure with you extensively before moving forward.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a progressive cancer treatment that uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. A critical part of many treatment plans, radiation is best utilized in tandem with surgery and chemotherapy. Our radiation therapists specialize by tumor type, using advanced technologies and treatments, such as robotic radiosurgery systems, and coordinate care with your care team to ensure precise and accurate treatment.

Specialized endocrine and thyroid cancer treatment

Our hospitals are proud to provide the region with some of the only medical resources for treating endocrine and thyroid cancers. The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce hormones and send them around the body through your blood. There are several different glands that comprise the endocrine system, and each control different body functions, including metabolism, mood, growth and reproduction. While most tumors that form on these glands are benign, some may become cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body. The types of cancers that can form include:

  • Adrenal or adrenocortical cancers — These rare cancers affect the adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys and produce important hormones that regulate metabolism (cortisol), adrenaline, heart rate, blood pressure and certain sexual characteristics (androgens).
  • Parathyroid cancer — This cancer affects the parathyroid, which encompasses four pea-sized glands located in the neck near the thyroid. The parathyroid secretes parathyroid hormone (PTH) to regulate your body's calcium levels.
  • Thyroid cancer — The most common type of endocrine cancer, thyroid cancer affects your thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. The thyroid gland produces and secretes two hormones into your blood that are necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Pediatric cancer care

Our network offers compassionate, specialized care for children with cancer. With a team of pediatric-trained experts that includes hematologists, oncologists, pediatric nurses and pharmacists, your child receives comprehensive cancer services that go beyond meeting their medical needs. Our child life specialists and social workers also provide emotional support for your child and family with access to an on-site lab, pharmacy, chemotherapy and radiation.

Nurse navigation services

Oncology nurse navigators are registered nurses with specialized training and certifications in cancer care. These dedicated professionals provide support and advocacy through each phase of cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Our ultimate goal is to ensure you can make informed decisions about your care so you can have as successful a treatment and recovery journey as possible. Nurse navigators accomplish this by initiating and facilitating timely communication with each member of your care team, guiding you each step of the way and ensuring you receive the right treatment at the right time. Additionally, they provide education, resources, emotional support and advocacy, as well access to appropriate support groups and community resources.

Outpatient cancer rehabilitation

To help you continue your healing, we provide outpatient rehabilitation treatments to aid in your recovery. Our rehabilitation program is personalized to help you regain, maintain and enhance your daily lifestyle throughout cancer therapy treatments.

Our cancer rehabilitation program services include:

  • Cognitive assessment
  • Lymphedema therapy
  • Mental health support
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Prescriptive exercise
  • Speech and swallowing intervention

Support and survivorship

We understand that sometimes you need more than inpatient treatment to physically and emotionally navigate your cancer journey. In light of how important your mental health is to successfully overcoming cancer, we offer a variety of support services to provide you with additional resources to meet your educational, nutritional, spiritual and psychological needs. Services we provide include:

  • Cancer resource connections
  • Clinical social workers
  • Financial counselors
  • Lymphedema management
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Oncology nurse navigators
  • Oncology rehabilitation
  • Patient Advisory Council
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Support groups

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We also offer quality care at these other locations in our extended network.
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