Medical Oncology & Hematology
Quality Care Close to Home
Millennium Physicians Oncology teams consist of 15 Medical Oncologists that provide the necessary treatment to improve the quality of life for patients. Our physicians use the latest, most aggressive medications available to eliminate cancer cells.
At Millennium Physicians, each patient has a dedicated team of cancer experts who work together with all under one roof to design an individualized treatment plan, monitor progress, and adjust when necessary. The oncology team will care for every patient uniquely to determine the best possible treatment.
Phase 3 clinical trials are trials that have reached the stage where there is no longer any guesswork at dosing or side effects. The efficacy of the chemotherapeutic and supportive care medications has been shown already to be equivalent or superior to stand of care chemotherapy, and it is time to see if they will drive a paradigm shift in cancer care. They drive the future of oncology and we have a plethora of them to enroll in at Millennium. When you are seen and evaluated by one of our specialists, they will be discussed up front and openly and encouraged.
Phase 3 Clinical trials are vital in studying all aspects of oncology. Their goal is in increasing patient quality of life and longevity. In the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses all new chemotherapeutics and supportive care medications and also regulates the phase 3 trials that are enrolling patients. Our licensed trials data is reported appropriately to them and helps us fashion the future of cancer care in the United States and consistently has shown benefit in these areas.
Patients participating in our Phase 3 clinical trials receive access to chemotherapeutic and supportive care and even diagnostic testing that may not be commercially available for years.
Click here to see the available clinical trials we have to offer.
Cytotoxic chemotherapeutics have been the mainstay of chemotherapy regimens as they directly interrupt the cancer cells ability to divide, grow, and spread. Cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drugs, whether oral or IV, are transported in the bloodstream throughout the body. Cancer cells, even 1 or 2 of them, require nutrition through the bodies blood stream. Cancers produce chemicals that tell the neighboring arteries to produce branches to support their growth and it is haphazard to say the least. This produces many more blood vessels than the neighboring tissues to support them and leads to a large delivery of blood. Subsequently increasing greatly, the delivery of all chemotherapy to the cancerous tissue and leading to the cancers demise.
Cytotoxic chemotherapeutics can be used to destroy the known primary tumors, but also to search out and destroy other smaller cancer cell nests not seen on initial staging scans as they are too tiny to see on conventional imaging. These chemicals are also able, often in smaller doses that are not even causing a patient any side effects, to augment the effects of radiation given in a patients’ care plan. When given in conjunction with radiation this leads to improved cure rates.
Cytotoxic drugs affect all dividing cells, including those of healthy tissue. The cells most likely to be injured are the gastrointestinal lining cells and the bone marrow. However, chemotherapy dosing schedules are derived around the recovery of these tissues entirely prior to the next dosing of the chemotherapy. Because cancer cells often divide markedly faster than normal cells, they are particularly sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs. This allows us to dose the chemotherapeutic drugs at a certain intense schedule and stop, the subsequent break in dosing allows the body’s cells to recuperate and the cancer cells that have been targeted are still dying with the next cycle of chemotherapy.
Hormonal therapy is also called endocrine therapy. The reason for this label is that many cancers, including breast, prostate, and more, are growing due to their cells having receptors for growth that are triggered by the patients’ own hormones. These endocrine glands have no ducts and dump the hormones directly into the bloodstream. These hormones then flow directly to the tumor and bind to receptors on the outside of the cancer cells and trigger growth. Without this stimulation the cancer cells will go dormant or even die. Endocrine therapy whether IV, oral, or intramuscular stops the cancer cells from getting this signal.
Cancer types that are growing due to the production of hormones from these endocrine glands are numerous. Subsequently many patients will be offered hormonal therapy. This can be in the setting where the cancer has spread widely and it is used to kill the cancer directly, as it is associated with a much better quality of life and superior response rates compared to chemotherapeutic agents. It can also be used to prevent a recurrence of cancer after other curative modalities like chemotherapy, surgery or radiation. In that setting it is often administered either intramuscularly or orally for years. The patient’s quality of life in these settings is often excellent with no side effects.
Hormonal therapy can be employed prior to other therapies, with other therapies, or after other therapies. The terms applied to this respectively are neoadjuvant, concurrent, and adjuvant.
Immunotherapy is rapidly becoming the changing face of oncologic care. It has become a mainstay in therapy in the last 5 years. It is driving the fight against cancer currently, and we recognize that here at Millennium Oncology and are pushing its utilization to the fullest. Immunotherapy is designed to inhibit certain substances that the cancer cells are releasing into the blood stream that effectively paralyze the bodies natural first line in fighting cancer, the immune system. The cells that are being effectively put to sleep are called natural killer cells. By binding to and blocking these chemicals your body is able to reawaken NK cells and recognize what it has been missing. It then attacks the foreign proteins on the cancer and kills it. At Millennium Oncology we use these immunotherapies front line and as much as possible in later lines of therapy when indicated.
There are several types of immunotherapy, including monoclonal antibodies, cancer vaccines, oncolytic virus therapy, T-cell therapy, and non-specific immunotherapies. The non-specific agents are often a delivery agent coupled with a radiation type or even a very potent chemotherapy drug that will be ingested by the cancer cells and not healthy normal cells, these are called conjugates.
Immunotherapy is different from traditional chemotherapy and can have lesser but much varied side effects. Because your body is awakening to fight the malignancy it can awaken and be mistaken. Much along the lines of an autoimmune disease like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis it can wake up and misrecognize you. Common side effects from these therapies lead to your body attacking itself. Most commonly are diarrhea and hypothyroidism. Other much less common side effects can be against almost any organ or gland in the body. Most of the time they are minor and treated with a dose of corticosteroids, but uncommonly they can be severe and limit the use of the drug in the future.
Intrathecal Chemotherapy is treatment in which anticancer drugs are injected directly into the fluid-filled space between the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. These tissues are called the leptomeninges.
The cerebrospinal space is the area surrounding the spine and brain, which contains cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a colorless fluid. It is produced in the main 2 ventricles of the brain, in an area called the choroid plexus. The fluid acts as a buffer around the brain and spinal cord, to keep them safe from injury from trauma.
Intrathecal (IT) chemotherapy is used to treat cancers that have entered into the CSF, not cancers located inside the brain itself. Chemotherapy given intravenously and/or by mouth are typically not able to cross into the CSF due to a blood brain barrier. This barrier is due to cells of the brain wrapping the arteries and preventing chemicals from entering the actual brain matter. This creates a sanctuary site for cancer to grow. Giving chemotherapy directly into the CSF allows the medication to reach the cancer cells in the leptomeninges but not necessarily into the brain itself. Therefore the treatment is used only for disease in these leptomeninges and not for cancer in the actual brain. This procedure of chemotherapy administration minimizes the potential systemic (overall) side effects that intravenous chemotherapy can cause and allows a large dose of chemotherapy to be introduced directly to the cancer and no other tissues.
IT chemotherapy can be used to treat or to prevent cancer in the CSF. IT chemotherapy may be administered as part of a chemotherapy regimen or on an as-needed basis. Typically used in lymphoma and leukemia therapies exclusively.
Intravesical therapy is exclusively used by Urologists and Oncologists. Intravesical therapy involves the instillation of either Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) or chemotherapy directly into the bladder through a catheter that is inserted into your urethra. BCG is a type of bacteria that elicits a major immune reaction in the bladder and causes the immune system to flood into the area and destroy superficial bladder cancers. It is also interestingly used as a TB vaccine. Chemotherapy is injected to directly kill the cancer cells and is typically a second line therapy after BCG. While the intravesical therapy is in the bladder and the foley catheter is clamped off the patient is instructed to roll in various positions for up to 2 hours to allow all of the bladder surface to be exposed. The catheter is then unclamped and drained and the catheter is removed. This technique is advantageous as it most of the time allows the rest of the body to be free of any ill effects.
Molecular therapy is another groundbreaking advance in cancer chemotherapeutics. Monoclonal antibodies have been and are being developed that recognize and home in on only certain proteins found on cancer or receptors on the cancer cells surface. By binding only to these specific targets, they minimize toxicity to any normal human cells. They cause the cells to die via a direct mechanism and by recruiting other normal human proteins (complements) to target the cancerous tissue. They are given by mouth and intravenously depending on the specific agent. We at Millennium Oncology use them daily and routinely. They have become a mainstay of cancer therapy both in upfront treatments and also as low toxicity maintenance therapies.
This type of therapy is exclusively delivered by Millennium Oncology Radiation Oncologists. These doctors have spent their lives learning the proper utilization of all the newest techniques available. There are two types of radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy). External beam (teletherapy) and internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). Teletherapy is given via a large machine with no tunnel. It rotates around the body in 360 degree circle and delivers radiation through as many as 300 ports as it travels. It can be made to deliver the radiation to the tumors with as little as 1 millimeter of overshoot in the desired area in all dimensions (stereotactic body radiotherapy or volume loop therapy). These treatments are delivered Monday through Friday and take about 15 minutes. There can be anywhere from 1 treatment to 40 treatments depending on the tumor type and the desired effect. There is typically no pain associated with these treatments and minor fatigue.
Radiation can be of various forms; photons and electron are the typical types. These both work by damaging a cells DNA. They typically work by hitting open and dividing DNA and stopping the cells ability to divide and populate. They also damage cells that are not diving but to a lesser extent. This effect takes time as not all cells are open and dividing at the same time. This is why there are subsequent treatments often. The dose of radiation is calculated based on the surrounding healthy tissues ability to recover from the radiation. Tissues in the body all have different levels of lifetime doses that are safe. It is a myth that if a patient gets radiation to one site that they cannot ever get radiation elsewhere.
Brachytherapy is given in internally. It is given wither by placing a solid radioactive isotope in a particular area or can be given intravenously. It works in the same fashion as external beam radiotherapy.
Once radiation is delivered it takes days to start seeing the effect, but the effect can then continue to kill cancer cells for weeks to months.
Click here to see the different types of radiation services we offer.
Designed to interact with the targeted tumor directly. They block tumor cell proliferation, instead of killing cells like standard chemotherapy.
Hematology is the study of blood in health and disease. It includes problems with the red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, blood vessels, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, and the proteins involved in bleeding and clotting (hemostasis and thrombosis). A hematologist is a medical doctor who applies this specialized knowledge to treat patients with blood conditions.
At Millennium Physicians, hematologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists work as a multi-disciplinary team to provide an individualized treatment plan for patients with blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Blood cancers typically start where blood is produced in the bone marrow. The normal blood cell development process is usually disrupted by an abnormal blood cell or cancer cell. These cells prevent your body from normal functions, like fighting infection or excessive bleeding.
When something is wrong with your blood, it can affect your total health. That is why you need to know about some of the common blood disorders that may affect you. People may be affected by many different types of blood conditions and blood cancers. Common blood disorders include anemia, bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, blood clots, and blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Myths & Facts About Cancer
Fact: Cancer is not contagious. However, some cancers are caused by viruses and bacteria that can be spread from person to person. Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been known to cause cervical, anal, and some kinds of head and neck cancers. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are viruses that increase the risk of developing liver cancer. Bacteria like H. pylori can cause stomach cancer. It is important to remember that while the viruses and bacteria that cause some cancers can be spread from person to person, the cancers they cause cannot be spread from person to person.
Fact: Although having a family history of cancer increases your risk of developing the disease, it is not a complete prediction of your future health. An estimated 4 out of 10 cancers can be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes, such as forming healthy eating habits, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, limiting alcoholic beverages, and avoiding tobacco products. Additionally, if you have inherited specific cancer genes that put you at high risk for cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery or medications to reduce the chance that cancer will develop.
Fact: There is no conclusive evidence that proves eating sugar will make cancer grow and spread more quickly. All cells in the body, both healthy cells and cancer cells, depend on sugar to grow and function. However, eating sugar won’t speed up the growth of cancer, just as cutting out sugar completely won’t slow down its growth. This doesn’t mean you should eat a high-sugar diet, though. Consuming too many calories from sugar has been linked to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes, which increase the risk of developing cancer and other health problems.
Fact: Although cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects, recent advances have resulted in many drugs and radiation treatments that are much better tolerated than in the past. As a result, symptoms like severe nausea and vomiting, hair loss, and tissue damage are much less common. However, managing side effects, also called palliative care, remains an important part of cancer care. Palliative care can help a person feel more comfortable at any stage of illness. People who receive both treatments for cancer and treatment to ease side effects at the same time often have less severe symptoms, a better quality of life, and report they are more satisfied with treatment.
Fact: You should not ignore the symptoms or signs of cancer, such as a breast lump or an abnormal-looking mole. Although the thought of having cancer is frightening, talking with your doctor and getting a diagnosis will give you the power to make informed choices and seek the best possible care. Because treatment is usually more effective during the early stages of cancer, early diagnosis often improves a person’s chances of survival.
Fact: There is no scientific evidence that a positive attitude will prevent cancer, help people with cancer live longer, or keep cancer from coming back. However, things that promote positive thinking, such as relaxation techniques, support groups, and a strong network of family and friends, may improve a person’s quality of life and outlook. It is important to remember that placing such an importance on attitude may lead to unnecessary guilt and disappointment if, for reasons beyond your control, your health does not improve.
Fact: No one is withholding a cure for cancer. The fact is, there will not be a single cure for cancer. Hundreds of types of cancer exist, and they respond differently to various types of treatment. There is still much to learn, which is why clinical trials continue to be essential for making progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.
Fact: Not every test, treatment, or procedure is right for every person. You and your doctor should discuss which ones will increase your chance of recovery and help you maintain the best quality of life. You should also discuss which ones could increase your risk of side effects and lead to unnecessary costs. If you decide after this discussion that you need more information before making treatment decisions, it may be helpful to seek a second opinion. Source: Cancer.Net, Doctor-Approved Patient Information from ASCO®.
You and your family may be faced with making important decisions regarding treatment options. Millennium Physicians is here to meet your needs at these difficult times. Our physicians and team of experts are committed to treating patients in a collaborative and compassionate environment and will be there for you every step of the way. Cancer impacts everyone involved.
Our support programs are designed for patients and caregivers alike, offering tips, tools, and resources to help you and your loved ones in your cancer care journey.
Your cancer care is provided by Millennium Physicians, a practice recognized by a national organization. Millennium Physicians has been certified through the QOPI Certification Program (QCP™), an affiliate of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). By choosing a practice that is currently certified by QCP, you know that you’ve selected a practice that is committed to delivering the highest quality of cancer care to you.
To maintain and earn QOPI® Certification, a practice undergoes an on-site review and peer review by a select team of oncology professionals, such as physicians and nurses, at least once every three years. The purpose of the review is to evaluate the practice’s performance in areas that affect patient care and safety. Through an assessment of a practice’s processes and policies, and as well as interviews with its staff, the practice is evaluated. This review fosters excellence in care through self-study and external review by one’s professional peers. Certification is awarded when a practice meets the QCP’s standards.
In order to achieve QOPI® Certification, this oncology practice has participated in QOPI® and met or exceeded a benchmark score on measures that compared the quality of their care against national standards.
For more information on blood disorders or cancers, visit one of our physicians or refer to one of these resources:
Meet Our Medical Oncology & Hematology Team:
We have 11 office locations serving Cleveland, Conroe, Cypress, Huntsville, Houston, Kingwood, The Woodlands, Tomball, and Shenandoah. These locations also have infusion suites to serve you close to home, allowing us to deliver care that is efficient and convenient as possible.
Our nurses, specially trained in oncology, will treat you with compassion and understanding. Treatments may vary from a single injection to a 6-8 hour treatment session, so please remember to arrange for transportations to and from your appointment.