Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment using medicine rather than radiation.
When it comes to cancer treatment, MaineGeneral's renowned staff of medical oncologists and nurses - matched with state-of-the-art technology - provides you the best possible cancer care available anywhere.
We work with you and your family throughout your treatment and recovery and provide support and answers to your questions about your illness, treatments and follow-up care.
Approach to Care
You want to continue your daily routine as much as possible. That's why we're committed to helping you manage your symptoms and side effects.
We will help you maintain a normal lifestyle through clinical assessment, nutrition and emotional support and pain management.
You have access to medical oncologists who diagnose and treat cancer and tumors and also may diagnose and treat disorders of the blood and blood-forming tissues.
They are part of a multidisciplinary team that includes radiation oncologists, surgeons, occupational and physical therapists, breast care coordinators, nutritionists and social workers.
We work closely with you to determine the best treatment options for each type of cancer and provide chemotherapy and other therapies to treat and manage the disease and its symptoms for outpatients at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care and inpatients at the Alfond Center for Health.
Our team also includes:
- Nursing staff who educate, treat and support patients with cancer and blood diseases;
- Oncology-registered nurses who are chemotherapy certified and specially trained to address your needs;
- Full-time pharmacists who specializes in oncology;
- Licensed clinical social workers for assessment, diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health needs and who provide many other services dealing with the whole person; and
- Certified medical assistants with specialty training tailored to their roles.
Medical oncology services include:
- Blood and/or blood product transfusions;
- Bone marrow biopsies;
- Bone marrow transplant;
- Chemotherapy treatments;
- External radiation;
- Lymphedema services;
- Plasmapheresis (by referral); and
- Wound, ostomy and continence nursing for inpatients and outpatients.
Learning about your disease and treatment empowers you to best manage your illness and communicate with your doctor and nurses about how you're feeling and responding to therapy.
Before you begin treatment, your oncologist and nurse will provide the information you need to make knowledgeable decisions about your care. We welcome all questions about your disease or therapy at any time during your treatment. Please don't hesitate to ask.
Please take your regularly prescribed medications while you have treatment unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Tell our oncology staff about all of your medications, including vitamins and over-the-counter drugs, so we can list them in your medical chart. We need an accurate record of your medications and supplements to make sure your medications are compatible.
This complete record helps us when changes are needed. Most prescription refills can be called in to your local pharmacy. Narcotic medications must be picked up in the pharmacy.
Please call a day or two before the prescription runs out - or before holidays, vacations or a long weekend - to make sure you always have a supply of important medication. Our prescription refill number is (207) 621-6100.
Our staff will collect all of your insurance information, referral letters, forms and cards at the reception desk when you arrive for your first appointment.
Having complete information from the start will prevent potential billing problems and needless stress. After this first registration, you should not need to present any more information.
Please let us know if your insurance or billing information changes during your course of treatment so we can update our records.
After you register and complete any needed lab work, a nurse, medical assistant or therapist will take your medical history and ask about your:
- Past surgeries; and
They will also take your vital signs - blood pressure, pulse, temperature and weight.
If you have any questions at any time, please ask.
Although treatment for side effects is much more effective than in the past, some patients receiving chemotherapy may still experience:
- Lack of appetite;
- Fatigue; and/or
- Mouth sores.
The staff at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care work closely with you to avoid and address all side effects as soon as possible. Please let us know about any side effects you experience, no matter how small you may think they are, so we can help keep you comfortable.
The Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care was designed to provide a calming setting that promotes health and wellness.
Treatment areas offer a quiet, peaceful environment for patients. In addition to 21 treatment bays overlooking our beautiful healing gardens, we offer private rooms if you want to be alone, lie down or have more space for family members.
If you are able, you can receive treatment on the patio overlooking the gardens and enjoy a therapeutic approach to nature. We ask that guests and visitors with colds or other infections not accompany you as they are a health risk to you and to other patients.
Please talk to us and let us know how you feel during your treatment. Your comfort and thoughts about our services really matter to us.
If you need anything, please ask. We will do whatever we can to make you as comfortable as possible.
Good nutrition is an important part of the healing process. Your nurse and oncologist will monitor your weight and evaluate any side effects that contribute to weight loss.
In addition, you have access to comprehensive nutrition assessments and evaluations, diet education and nutritional counseling.
Our dietitian can also develop a supplemental nutrition plan for you and help you manage it.
For more information about our nutrition services at the cancer center, please call Donna Walsh at (207) 626-4857 or contact her by email.
At each visit we will update your medication list and medical history.
Please bring to every visit an accurate, up-to-date list of your prescriptions, vitamins and over-the-counter medications, as well as the dosages.
The nurse can give you an updated medication list at the end of your visit.
Can I be cured?
Many cancers are curable, and many more are manageable. Your oncology doctor will discuss the details of your specific illness that will affect the outcome of your treatments.
Is chemotherapy painful?
Chemotherapy does not cause pain. If you have pain during your intravenous chemotherapy, please tell the nurse, as this should not occur. The needle may be moved for comfort to a different location.
Can I eat and drink?
Yes. Eat a light breakfast before coming to the clinic in the morning. We provide snacks and drinks. If your treatment extends over lunchtime (11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) we will provide you with lunch.
Can I have an alcoholic drink with dinner?
Alcohol can worsen the side effects, so please talk with your oncologist before drinking alcohol.
Will I have side effects from chemotherapy?
Most medications, including chemotherapy and biotherapy, have potential side effects. Your nurse will discuss those common to all cancer therapies and those specific to your treatment. Not everyone experiences side effects. Our staff will do everything possible to minimize the effects and support you if they become more serious.
What if I have a problem at night or on the weekends?
We are here for you. If you have an emergency situation after the normal working hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday, please call our answering service at (207) 621-6100. They will contact your oncologist or the physician on call to help you. If you need immediate care, go directly to the nearest emergency department.
How am I charged for services?
Patients seen in Medical Oncology receive two separate bills:
Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care. The bill covers such things as use of the rooms, machines and technical services. You will be billed periodically throughout your treatment. If you have questions about the hospital part of your bill, please call (877) 255-4680 or (207) 872-4680.
Physician. For radiation treatment, you also will receive a bill periodically from Physician Associates for physician services throughout your treatment. If you have questions about the physician portion of your bill, please call (800) 287-6034.
Insurance co-payments are due at your visit. Your insurance coverage will dictate the amount. We will submit your bill to your insurance. If you have managed care insurance coverage, you'll need a referral and authorization from your primary care practice before starting treatment.
If you don't have insurance, our financial counselors can help you apply for available financial assistance. Patients may qualify for MaineCare (Medicaid) or MaineGeneral's uncompensated care services program.