If you know someone who has undergone chemotherapy or have gone through it yourself, you’re likely already familiar with infusion therapy. This treatment modality entails administering medications through a patient’s veins, and in cases of cancer, the chosen drugs are designed to eliminate cancer cells.
But did you know infusion therapy is also used to treat diseases other than cancer? Though synonymous with chemotherapy, infusion therapy has proven to be effective – and life-changing – for patients with complex medical conditions like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and many others. Here, Regional Cancer Care Associates, which cares for patients in Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey, explores the full scope of infusion therapy treatment possibilities.
Infusion Therapy in Cancer Treatment
First, it helps to understand how infusion therapy is used during chemotherapy. Chemotherapy delivers powerful anticancer drugs to the body and is administered in one of two ways – by mouth or intravenously. When the latter route is chosen, infusion therapy is used to deliver chemo medications directly to the patient’s bloodstream, where they target and destroy cancer cells. Infusion therapy may also be used to help keep patients hydrated during treatment.
Other Uses of Infusion Therapy
Beyond cancer, patients undergo infusion therapy for one of many reasons. For example, intravenous nutrition or antiemetic (anti-vomiting) therapy may be required for patients who experience side effects that render them unable to eat or drink without vomiting. For other patients, certain medications cannot be taken orally because stomach acids will destroy them before they can attack the disease. Even further, some conditions require that medications such as chemotherapy be injected directly into the patient’s bloodstream, so that the agents can start working more quickly.
Infusion therapy is used to treat a multitude of serious or chronic conditions, such as:
- Congenital diseases
- Certain forms of arthritis
- Immune deficiency disorders
- Gastrointestinal tract diseases
- Pain caused by cancer and other conditions
- Dehydration due to nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Serious conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, congestive heart failure, and more
While the premise of all infusion therapies is to deliver medications to patients who cannot or should not take oral medications, you might hear them called by different names based on the condition or disease they’re designed to treat. These include:
- Blood component stimulating factor, antihemophilic factors, or anticoagulation therapy
- Enteral or total parenteral nutrition
- Antiviral or antibiotic therapy
- Pain management therapy
- Hydration therapy
- Inotropic therapy
Your doctor can provide more information on infusion therapy and help determine if it’s the right choice for you.
Beyond Chemotherapy (and the Hospital)
Aside from being linked to chemotherapy, infusion therapy is often thought of as a treatment you can only receive in the hospital. While this was once true, infusion therapy has evolved into a much more convenient treatment option. For one, a vast number of dedicated infusion therapy centers are open across the country, eliminating the need for a hospital visit in many cases. What’s more, the treatment can be administered by highly trained and specialized nurses in a patient’s own home, making infusion therapy readily accessible to homebound patients.
Whether patients are fighting cancer or another chronic condition, infusion therapy is a life-changing treatment modality – especially for our patients in Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey. To learn more about infusion therapy as part of our treatments for cancer, contact us today.