Systemic Therapies

Also known as: Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy

At Swedish, our medical oncologists specialize in treating cancer with a variety of cancer-fighting medications and treatment protocols, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapy and stem cell transplant.

Systemic therapies travel through the bloodstream and affect cells in other body parts. They are used for patients whose cancer has spread to other areas of the body or if there’s a high risk of spread. Sophisticated genetic analysis allows us to target therapies to specific DNA mutations that cause cancer cells to develop and grow. 

Types of Systemic Therapy

More than 100 different medications are currently being used to treat cancer. The type of medication— or combination of medications — prescribed by the medical oncologist will depend on the type of cancer being treated and the cancer stage. Systemic therapies include:

Androgen deprivation therapy uses drugs to block the production of male hormones (androgens) and their effect at the cellular level.

Chemotherapy is the systemic use of cytotoxic chemicals to kill cancer cells. Today there are many medications (e.g., biological medications, immune treatments, targeted therapies) that do not fit the classic definition of chemotherapy yet are often included in this category.

Endocrine therapy is used to slow or stop the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking hormone production or interfering with the effects of hormones on cancer cells.

Hormone therapy is the use of drugs that inhibit the production or block the effect of certain hormones (usually sex hormones), helping to control cancer-cell growth.

Immunotherapy uses drugs to allow the body’s own immune system to more effectively find and destroy cancer cells.

Providers Specializing in Systemic Therapies

At Swedish, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.