Oncology and Cancer Care at St. Luke's Health

Cancer Treatments Throughout Greater Houston and East Texas

Our board-certified oncologists serve patients throughout East Texas, Houston, and surrounding areas, from The Woodlands to Lake Jackson. No matter where you live or which location you choose, you can trust that we will provide the same patient-centered care to everyone.

As home to the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, St. Luke’s Health provides advanced resources backed by our clinical and research partnerships. Our multidisciplinary team is bringing innovative treatments from lab to bedside faster than ever to help stop cancer in its tracks.

Our specialized teams develop custom treatment plans for every patient. These plans often include more than one type of therapy. Learn more about each:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to prevent the growth of cancer cells by shrinking or killing them. The multidisciplinary team at St. Luke's Health personalizes the delivery of these drugs for each patient’s type and stage of cancer. Regardless of how it is delivered, chemotherapy is considered a systemic treatment because the medication transfers through the bloodstream to the entire body.

Chemotherapy can be administered in the following ways:

  • Intravenous (IV) medication
  • Oral medication
  • Direct placement
  • Hyperthermic intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy
  • Topical cream or lotion

Side effects of chemotherapy:

  • Fatigue
  • Feve
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mouth sores or irritation
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Low platelet count
  • Changes in skin
  • Concentration and short-term memory problems
  • Menstrual irregularities or cessation


Side effects from chemotherapy are different for each patient. Talk to your physician about what to expect and how you can cope with these side effects. Our compassionate team is committed to providing expansive resources for our cancer patients, including support groups and spiritual care.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation to injure or destroy targeted cells, usually cancer cells, while preserving as many normal surrounding cells as possible. Radiation therapy may be used to reduce the size of a cancer before surgery, to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery, or, in some cases, as the main treatment. It can also be used in conjunction with chemotherapy. Dependent on your type of cancer and other factors, your physician may choose to use either external beam radiation therapy or internal radiation therapy.

External beam radiation therapy is the most frequently used type of radiation for cancer patients. During this process, a radiation oncologist will use a machine to aim high-energy beams of radiation from outside the body toward the tumor.

Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy, uses a radiation source that’s usually sealed in a small implant. This implant is placed into the body near or inside the tumor, targeting the therapy to harm as few healthy cells as possible.

Gamma Knife Radiation Therapy

Gamma Knife is a technique that uses targeted radiation to treat brain tumors and other neurological conditions. This procedure does not involve any incisions. Rather, surgeons direct highly targeted beams of radiation to areas of the brain that require treatment, eliminating the risk of damaging surrounding healthy tissue.

During Gamma Knife brain surgery, 192 individual beams of radiation are positioned so they converge on a single focus point. Your surgical team optimizes the shape and dose of radiation to treat the areas that require treatment without exposing surrounding areas to excess radiation.

Gamma Knife treatment happens in four steps:

  1. The doctor attaches the stereotactic head frame, which allows them to accurately pinpoint the treatment area. This frame prevents your head from moving during imaging and treatment and ensures radiation beams can be directed with the highest level of accuracy.
  2. After attaching the head frame, the imaging team will perform an MRI, CT scan, or angiogram to determine the size, shape, and position of the treatment area.
  3. Once the dimensions of the treatment area are established, your experienced medical team will plan your specific course of treatment. Because no two cases are alike, each patient’s plan is designed specifically for them.
  4. Once your surgical team establishes the plan, treatment begins. This procedure is silent and painless. Patients are awake during the procedure, which can last from a few minutes up to an hour.

Most patients experience no discomfort from Gamma Knife radiosurgery and return home the same day. Because radiation treatments work over time, patients can see the effects from this procedure over a period of weeks or months.

Cyberknife Radiation Therapy

A non-invasive alternative to surgery for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, CyberKnife® tracks, detects, and corrects for motion to administer precise radiation dose therapy. The non-surgical treatment requires no anesthesia and is painless. It’s so precise that radiation can be sculpted to small complexly shaped lesions near critical structure, including arteriovenous malformations, acoustic neuroma, trigeminal neuralgia, and ocular melanoma. CyberKnife® is used to treat many tumors and lesions that may have been previously considered inoperable or untreatable, including tumors in the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas, and kidney.

Benefits of CyberKnife®:

  • No incisions
  • No pain
  • No required anesthesia
  • No recovery time—you may return to work following treatment
  • No painful head frame bolted to skull
  • Pinpoint accuracy
  • Treatment can be completed in one to five sessions, which allows patients to quickly return to daily activities.

How Does CyberKnife® work?

The CyberKnife® uses image-guided robotics to precisely target and destroy tumors and other lesions with multiple beams of radiation. Each individual beam is not sufficient to cause harm, but the cumulative effect of all the beams at the target results in the lesion receiving a very high dose of radiation with extreme accuracy – protecting and retaining the healthy tissue surrounding it.

The CyberKnife® combines two leading technologies that allow for optimal treatment:

  • Intelligent Robotics: Mounted on a multi-jointed robotic arm, allowing for more flexible delivery, radiation can reach areas of the body that are untreatable with other, more limited radiosurgery systems.
  • Image Guidance: Utilizing X-ray machines that take computerized images throughout the procedure, the CyberKnife® is able to correct for small movements during treatment.

Gene Therapy

As the home of the Baylor College of Medicine Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, St. Luke’s Health is partnered with the largest clinical genetics program in the nation. This gives us the opportunity to analyze the genetic makeup of patients to identify the potential for cancer, take measures to prevent its onset, and develop custom treatments for each case. Our strong academic and research programs allow us to provide leading-edge cancer treatment to our patients.

This emergent research has led to impressive clinical applications. For example, specific gene changes can be used to predict which patients will have a better or worse outcome from treatment. This provides the oncology team with greater insight when planning the intensity of each patient’s treatment plan. Additionally, doctors can test for gene mutations in cancer cells that could indicate certain medications would be ineffective.

The experts at St. Luke’s Health can provide guidance about gene therapy options specific for each patient. If you have questions about gene therapy or oncology treatments, ask your physician for more information about what’s right for you.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy refers to any therapy that helps the immune system identify cancer cells and strengthen its response to fight them.

Types of immunotherapy treatments:

  • Monoclonal antibodies - This therapy involves the introduction of lab-created proteins that mimic the immune system’s antibodies. This can make cancer cells more apparent to the immune system, block growth factor receptors, carry radioactive particles to identified cancer cells, and deliver drugs to identified cancer cells.
  • Cancer vaccines - Cancer vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, can be used to create an immune response to a specific disease.
  • Non-specific immunotherapies

Side effects of immunotherapy:

  • Thinning hair
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathing issues

Side effects from immunotherapy are different for each patient. Talk to your physician about what to expect and how to you can cope with these side effects. Our compassionate team is committed to providing expansive resources for our cancer patients, including support groups and spiritual care.

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