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During Treatment

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Information about different types of cancer treatments

Your oncologist (cancer doctor) will discuss the best treatment option for you.

Your treatment plan may include surgery, systemic therapy (including chemotherapy) and/or radiation therapy. You may have only one of these treatments, or you might have more than one.

Your health care team will advise you on your treatment plan, and help you to understand the treatments, possible side effects and how to take care of yourself at home.

Palliative care is care that addresses both physical and non-physical symptoms. Palliative care involves a team of health care providers and supports for you as well as your family. Your health care team may talk to you about palliative care throughout the course of your diagnosis and treatment.

Our oncology teams, together with our patients, families, and their loved ones, work together to create a plan that will meet the physical, emotional, informational, and supportive needs of our patients. We start first with the patient and their family, identifying a patient's needs, share a plan of care, and then invest in the results to enhance survivorship. By using this approach, we can ensure that through trust and guidance, a patient's cancer pathway is a meaningful experience.

Click on any of the buttons below to learn more about each type of treatment:

Trillium Health Partners offers our patients better health care in the surgical programs and quality state of the art inpatient and outpatient care.

Learn more about surgery services at Trillium Health Partners​.

Our systemic therapy team includes oncologists (cancer doctors), nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and social workers. Our team also closely coordinates with the Outpatient Laboratory for blood work and sample collection. Systemic therapy is available at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre (Credit Valley Hospital) and The Betty and Buster Lockwood Cancer Detection and Treatment Centre (Queensway Health Centre). Our teams work at both hospital sites to serve our patients close to home.

For an overview of Cancer Treatments watch Cancer Treatment Therapies Overview and read the Chemotherapy Education Book

As a new systemic therapy patient you will be given a Patient Education Package at your first oncology appointment. In this folder you will find important information about your treatment.


Chemotherapy (also known as chemo) is the name used for some types of anticancer medications. These medications are used to cure or control fast-growing cancer, to prepare a patient for other treatments like surgery, or to ease cancer symptoms. All chemotherapy medications are antineoplastic, meaning they slow cancer growth, or stop the growth of tumours (neoplasms). Some chemotherapy medications are cytotoxic, meaning they kill cells. Chemotherapy affects all fast-growing cells in the body, not just cancer cells. This is why there are many side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Learn more:
Watch a video on: How Chemotherapy works - by the Canadian Cancer Society

Hormonal Therapy

Hormones are chemicals that are made by glands in your body or in a laboratory. They control how your body parts grow and work. Some types of cancers (for example, certain breast and prostate cancers) grow because of hormones in the body. Hormonal therapy can kill cancer cells or slow their growth by using medications that stop the body’s ability to make hormones or change how hormones work in the body. The hormones are typically given by mouth (orally) or by injection.

Learn more:
Watch a video on: Hormonal Therapy by the American Cancer Society

Biologic & Biosimilar Therapy

Biologic drugs are made from living cells and are used to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Some biologic therapies (for example, antibodies and vaccines) make your immune system stronger so it can kill cancer cells. Biosimilar drugs (biosimilars) are highly similar copies of existing biologic drugs. There are no clinically meaningful differences between the two. Several treatment goals can be accomplished with biologic therapy: destroy cancer cells, stop them from growing and spreading, and/or lessen the side effects you may experience from other cancer treatments.

Learn more:

For more information about Systemic Therapy and side effects, visit our Patient and Caregiver Education Materials & Community Resources Library

The Radiation Program at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre uses leading-edge cancer treatment technology. The inviting open concept treatment and waiting areas complement the state-of-the-art equipment that is used to deliver some of the most advanced treatment options available:

  • Image Guided Radiation Treatment (IGRT)
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Treatment (VMAT)
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Treatment (SBRT)
  • Brachytherapy Treatment
  • Stereotactic Radiation Surgery (SRS)

Our team consists of radiation oncologists, nurses, radiation therapists, social workers, and dietitians. Our team approach to treatment delivery is the philosophy of our program. By relying on the power of teamwork we have created efficiencies that help us maintain timely access to care. The philosophy of teamwork is also essential to our innovations around quality of care as we continually seek to go beyond the traditional boundaries of health care.

As a new radiation therapy patient you will be given a Radiation Therapy package (Green folder) at your first radiation appointment. In this folder you will find important information about your radiation treatment.

For information about Radiation Therapy at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre, read the Patient Radiation book

Click to view Radiation Therapy Orientation Video 

Helpful Questions & Answers about Radiation Therapy

Q: Does radiation therapy hurt?
A: No, radiation is like getting an x-ray.

Q: What are the possible side effects of radiation therapy?
A: The side effects that you may experience will depend on the amount of radiation delivered and the area of your body being treated. Before you start your treatment, your health care team will take a personalized approach and educate you about the side effects that you may experience during your treatment and give you tips on how to manage them. Always let your health care team know about any side effects you experience, even if they seem minor.

Q: Will I be radioactive?
A: If you have external beam radiation treatment the answer is no, you will not be radioactive. You can still enjoy the same contact with family and friends without fear of exposing them to radiation.
For most types of Brachytherapy Treatment the answer is no, you will not be radioactive. Some Brachytherapy treatments use radioactive sources which are put into your body and are not taken out. Your health care team will tell you ​if this is the type of treatment you will have.

Q: What is a tattoo?
A: A tattoo is a permanent freckle sized mark or dot that will always be on your skin. Tattoos are used by the radiation therapists to find the precise area of your body that will be treated every day.

Q: How long does it take?
A: The radiation machine is only turned on for a few minutes for each treatment. The radiation therapy appointments are about 15 minutes long. It takes this amount of time to make sure that you are in the same position for the treatment every day. However there are some procedures, like Brachytherapy, that may take longer than 15 minutes and you will be told about that before your appointment.

Q: Do I have to come every day for treatment?
A: The radiation oncologist will tell you how many treatments you will have. If you are to have many treatments you will likely come every day for treatments.

Q: Can I come at any time for my treatment?
A: You will be given specific appointments, and you will be notified ahead of time if changes need to be made.

For more information about Radiation Therapy and side effects, visit our Patient and Caregiver Education Materials & Community Resources Library

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy treatment where a radioactive source is placed inside or next to the area where the cancer is. Brachytherapy may be used for cancers of the prostate, uterus, vagina, cervix, breast, skin, lung or esophagus.

Your radiation oncologist will talk to you about the available treatment options. You and your radiation oncologist will create a specific treatment plan. Brachytherapy may be used alone or together with other treatment types such as surgery, radiation therapy (also known as external beam radiation therapy) and chemotherapy.

There are many steps involved in Brachytherapy:

  • Education and information
  • Pre-treatment assessment & tests (such as blood tests or x-rays)
  • Treatment planning
  • Brachytherapy treatment
  • Follow-up

As a new Brachytherapy patient you will be given a Brachytherapy package (Red folder) ​at your first Brachytherapy appointment.  In this folder you will find important information about your treatment.

For information about Brachytherapy Therapy at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre read the Patient Brachytherapy book

Click to view Brachytherapy Orientation Video 

Day of your first treatment

See page 20 and 21 of your Patient and Caregiver Handbook for more information about preparing for your first day of systemic or radiation treatment.

Talk with your health care team at your first appointment and read through your Patient Education Package to find out:

  • where to park
  • where to register and check in for your first treatment appointment
  • if you need to go to the blood lab before your treatment

For the most up-to-date visitor information on COVID-19, and to know if you are able to bring someone with you for your first treatment, visit

After your first treatment appointment

If you need help with symptoms related to your cancer treatment, call one of the numbers below:

Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Please leave a message with your:

  • First and Last Name (Patients)
  • Phone number
  • Reason for your call

Monday to Friday, 4:00 p.m. - 8:30 a.m.
Weekends and Statutory Holidays, 24 hours

You may also use the resources in Manage Your Symptoms for information to help you manage any symptoms as needed.

Everyone is different. You may not have all of the symptoms mentioned. Focus on the common symptoms or side effects listed in your Medication Information Sheets given to you at your first appointment.