Information for Patients and Families

Your Cancer Care



Every cancer is different just as every patient is different. That is why your cancer care team will develop a treatment plan that addresses your cancer and your life circumstances. We care for the patient and their families as well as treat the disease. We work with you to find treatment options that best meet your health goals and wishes.

On this page, you will find general information about your cancer care. If you ever have questions about your care, your health, or what to expect in your cancer journey, write the questions down so that you can discuss them with your cancer care team during your next appointments.


Your Cancer Care Team

Many different health care staff may be involved with your care. Your cancer care team may consist of:

  • cancer doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or radiation therapists
  • Psycosocial specialists: social worker, psychologist, registered dietician, or registered physiotherapist trained in lymphedema treatment
  • support staff
  • students who are training to become health care providers

Members of this health care team are skilled in cancer diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials, pain and symptom management, supportive care, and palliative care.

The most important member of your cancer care team is you. We encourage you and your family to ask questions and participate in discussions with your health care team. Patients who are more involved in their own health care tend to have better results. We also advise that you continue to meet with your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner, etc.) regarding your treatment and for other health issues.

How to be involved in your health care:

  • Write down questions you have about your health and your cancer care
  • Discuss these questions with your cancer care team and your appointments
  • Continue to meet with your primary care provider regarding treament and for other health issues

Voice Amplifiers

If you require an aid to help you hear the voice of your doctor, nurse or health care team member, voice amplifiers are available at the Regional Cancer Centret. Please ask your health care team or one of the volunteers to provide you with a voice amplifier that you can use during your appointment.

Cancer Treatments

There are three major ways to treat cancer. You may need one of these treatments or a combination of them. You and your health care team will work together to develop a treatment plan that is best for you.


Your treatment is tailored to you and may include:


Surgery

  • Removes the tumour or area where the cancer is located.
  • If your treatment plan includes surgery, you will meet with your surgeon or interventional radiologist to go over any health issues or concerns.

Radiation Therapy

  • Uses high-energy X-rays or particles to damage or destroy cancer cells
  • The type of radiation treatment you may need will be determined by your treatment team
  • Your cancer care team will teach you how to care for yourself while receiving radiation therapy treatment
  • Radiation therapy treatment is usually given daily Monday to Friday over several weeks. Treatment is not scheduled on weekends or statutory holidays.
  • Each treatment may take 15 to 45 minutes

Chemotherapy

  • Uses medications to treat your cancer
  • Your treatment team will determine the type of chemotherapy you may need
  • Your cancer care team will teach you how to care for yourself while receiving chemotherapy. A chemotherapy education session will be booked for you and one family member. It is important that you attend.
  • Anytime you have questions about your medications, it is important that you ask your cancer care team

Chemotherapy

Pharmacy

The Regional Cancer Centre pharmacy team is committed to excellence in pharmaceutical cancer care. The pharmacy team works closely with our cancer doctors and other members of the health care team to ensure patients on treatment have the most appropriate drug therapy.

The pharmacy staff completes detailed work to ensure patients are provided with customized treatment at each and every visit to the clinic. We focus on patient and staff safety.

Pharmacy Education

Pharmacists are an excellent resource. They provide education that helps to ensure patients feel confident managing their drug therapy.

Pharmacists can provide you and your family with information about:

  • chemotherapy drugs:
    • injections given by the nurse during a scheduled appointment in the Cancer Centre
    • chemotherapy pills taken by mouth at home
  • side effects of chemotherapy and management of the symptoms
  • possible interactions with other medications
  • herbal or natural health products

If patients are prescribed oral chemotherapy (chemotherapy pills taken by mouth) they will be asked to speak with our pharmacist at an arranged appointment.

What to bring to your appointment with the pharmacist:

  • a list of your current medications including prescription drugs (pills, patches inhalers, eye/ear drops, creams, injections). Alternatively, bring all your current medications in their original packages.
  • vitamins, herbal products or other treatments you are using
  • over-the-counter or non-prescription medications
  • any medication you need during the day such as for pain, diabetes and smoking cessation
  • detailed information about any drug allergies you have, including when you found out about the allergy, what happened, and how it was managed
  • reading glasses, notebook and pen to write down questions you wish to discuss

A printable checklist is available here.

Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre, Specialty Pharmacy

Our hospital has a specialty pharmacy that supports cancer care. Patients can take prescriptions for cancer treatment to this pharmacy to be filled. The specialty pharmacy provides many services to cancer patients:

  • The pharmacy carries specialized oncology (cancer) medications and
    supportive medications (anti-nausea medication, specialty mouthwashes, injections).
  • Pharmacists trained in oncology (cancer) provide patients with private consultations.
  • Pharmacy team members work closely with your cancer care team. We monitor for drug interactions and side effects.
  • We help you navigate drug coverage.
  • When you have a complicated medication schedule, our pharmacy uses compliance packaging. Compliance packaging helps to ensure you are taking your medication correctly.

Email: specialtypharmacy@tbh.net

The Specialty Pharmacy is located on Level 3 of the Regional Cancer Centre
Hour of Operation: Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Phone: (807) 684-7242
Email: specialtypharmacy@tbh.net

Clinical Trials

A Clinical Trial is a type of research study that helps to find new ways to diagnose, treat, manage or prevent cancer. Cancer clinical trials test new drugs, new approaches to radiation or surgery, or any combination of these. Screening trials try to find better ways to detect cancer early.

For information about clinical trials, please call us at (807) 684-7566 or toll-free 1-877-696-7223 ext. 7566. You can also visit the Clinical Research Services Department webpage.