Oncology: Cancer Treatment Close to Home

Oncology: Cancer Treatment Close to Home

What is an oncologist?

An oncologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. There are three types of oncologists:

  • Medical oncologist
  • Radiation oncologist
  • Surgical oncologist

There are two medical oncologists at Weeks Medical Center.  We are affiliated with Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center and are board certified.

What is cancer and how do you determine the treatment?

Cancer develops when cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because of the growth of abnormal cells. Cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metasta­sis and occurs as the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels of the body. When a patient is initially diagnosed with cancer, we will provide cancer treatment op­tions. We will recommend the best treatment plan based on the type of cancer; how far it has spread; and other important factors like age and general health.

How do oncologists diagnose cancer at Weeks?

An oncologist is trained to know exactly what to look for regarding symptoms of cancer. One of the technical strengths of Weeks’ cancer program is the availability of on-site PET/CT scanning. The mobile PET/CT scanner provides images that pinpoint the location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body by looking at tissue at the cellular level. The procedure, which requires receiving a radioactive glucose through an IV line, is performed to:

  • Detect cancer
  • Determine whether a cancer has spread
  • Assess the effectiveness of a cancer treatment plan
  • Identify re-staging of existing cancer

What is chemotherapy and how does it work?

Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy or reduce the growth of can­cer. It is also sometimes recommended to re­duce the risk of recurrence of cancer by killing any undetected cells that may have remained in the body. Chemotherapy can also be used to shrink cancer that can’t be removed surgically.

What level of oncology care is available at Weeks Medical Center?

Our oncology team offers 12 regular physician clinics a month at Weeks for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well as other disorders of the blood. The Oncology Department is open five days a week and is staffed by three full time regis­tered nurses, two per diem registered nurses, two health unit coordinators, and a secretary. The nurses are oncology certified and offer patients a comprehensive care management approach. The nurses at Weeks have been specially trained at Dartmouth-Hitchcock to administer chemotherapy, biotherapy, and hormone therapy.

By Marc Gautier, MD, Gregory Ripple, MD, and Louise Meyer, APRN-MS

Marc Gautier and Gregory Ripple are oncologists at Weeks Medical Center. Louise Meyer is an advanced practice registered nurse specializing in hematology and oncology. For more information or for an appointment, please call 603-788-5095.