Attacking rapidly growing cancer cells with medication

Chemotherapy at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham  

Chemotherapy, also known as chemo, is a common treatment for cancer. It uses medications to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing or spreading.

Chemo is prescribed by a doctor known as a medical oncologist. Here at BID Needham, these doctors are part of a team that provides you with comprehensive cancer care. The team includes radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, chemotherapy nurses, social workers, case managers and others. Together, we allow you to receive high quality treatment — at a level you would expect only at academic medical centers — for nearly all types of cancers. And you get that treatment close to home right here in Needham.

Support Along Your Cancer Journey 

Our Lank Cancer Center offers a warm and supportive environment, where you and your family feel welcome. Doctors, nurses, social workers and volunteers attend to your treatment needs.

Your medical oncologist will guide your care. Together with our other specialists, they: 

  • Answer any questions you have about your cancer and cancer treatment.
  • Talk with you and your family about treatment options and decisions.
  • Coordinate other services you may need, including social services, nutrition counseling, rehabilitation services, home visits from nurses and hospice programs.

If necessary, our team can coordinate more specialized treatments, such as vaccines, biological agents or hormones at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Goals of Chemotherapy Treatment?

The goals of chemotherapy depend on the type of cancer you have and its stage. Your doctor may recommend the treatment to:

  • Eliminate all cancer cells from your body, with the goal of curing your disease.
  • Control your cancer, so that it shrinks your tumor or keeps the disease from spreading.
  • Ease your symptoms to help you feel better and improve your quality of life, even if your cancer isn’t considered curable.
Which Chemo Drugs Will My Doctor Use?

Doctors consider the type of cancer you have, your overall health and whether you’ve had chemotherapy in the past when deciding which chemotherapy drugs to give you.

How Is Chemotherapy Given?

In most cases, you receive chemotherapy intravenously (through a vein). We often use a chemo port — a small implantable device that’s placed under your skin with a tube that connects to a vein — to limit the number of needle sticks and make your treatment more comfortable.

Doctors also may deliver chemotherapy medication:

  • By injection into a muscle.
  • By mouth.
  • Into your abdominal or chest cavity or spinal canal.
  • Into your tumor itself.
  • Through an artery to treat a single area (for example, the liver).
  • Topically (rubbed on your skin).
When Is Chemotherapy Given?

Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy to:

  • Help other treatments, such as radiation therapy or immunotherapy, work better.
  • Kill cancer cells that may remain in your body after surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Shrink your tumor before you have surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Treat cancer that has returned or spread in your body after initial treatment.

Treatment schedules vary depending on factors such as the goals of your treatment, the type of cancer you have and how you tolerate the therapy. Often, patients receive chemo in cycles, allowing a period of treatment followed by a period of recuperation.

Where Do I Go to Get My Chemotherapy Treatments?

Chemotherapy and all our cancer services are conveniently located on the first floor of our Lank Cancer Center. We have 10 chemotherapy infusion bays. We also have a private chemotherapy room with a bed if you need it, and several exam rooms. Chemotherapy treatments are part of our infusion therapy services.

The treatment area overlooks a healing garden. With plenty of sunlight, we designed it to be comforting and calming while maintaining your privacy.

Will I Have Side Effects From Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells. But the treatment also may affect healthy cells. Areas that may be affected include your mouth, intestines, bone marrow and hair-growing cells. When healthy cells are damaged, you may experience side effects such as poor appetite, nausea, diarrhea or hair loss.

Sometimes side effects are minor, and some patients don’t experience them at all. Other times, side effects can be more extensive. We help you learn what to expect from your treatment. We also offer services such as nutrition counseling and pain management to help.

Types of Cancer We Treat

We treat a wide variety of cancers. No matter your type, know that you’re in good hands with us.
  • Blood & bone marrow cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Gynecologic cancer
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Lung & thoracic cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Spleen cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Urologic cancer

Make an Appointment

To speak with a member of our cancer care team, please call.