Chemotherapy Menu


Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be used as the primary therapy for cancer patients or may be used in combination with other therapies such as surgery and radiation. Anti-cancer drugs are given to patients either intravenously (injected into a vein), by mouth, or by injection. The drugs kill or cause damage to cancer cells, but may also damage normal cells. Hospitalization may be needed to monitor treatment and to control chemotherapy’s side effects. Common side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of drug used, the dosage, and the length of treatment, and may include: nausea and vomiting, hair loss, anemia, reduced ability of blood to clot, mouth sores, increased likelihood of developing infections, and fatigue. Most side effects disappear once treatment is stopped. Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells by keeping them from growing and multiplying. Nearby healthy cells can be harmed by anti-cancer drugs – that is what causes side effects. Chemotherapy treatments are often given in cycles: a treatment period, followed by a recovery period, followed by another treatment period. Depending on the drug, chemotherapy may be given at home, a hospital outpatient facility, a physician’s office/clinic, or in a hospital. 

Infusion Therapy

UAB Medicine Infusion Therapy is part of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, and it is the largest infusion therapy center in Alabama. We are also the only Magnet-designated infusion therapy center in the state. Magnet status is the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) most prestigious distinction for superior nursing practices and outcomes. Our center was built with you in mind: Physicians, architects, and designers worked together to anticipate your needs.

Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump Program

Hepatic artery infusion pump therapy (HAIP) is an innovative way to directly treat life-threatening tumors of the liver too large to be safely removed. Most large tumors in the liver are metastases – tumors that have spread from colorectal cancer. UAB Medicine was the first institution in Alabama to offer this therapy option in 2018, which gives hope to many patients who would have had no other treatment options.

Over half of patients with colorectal cancer will develop liver metastases. Metastatic liver tumors can grow quickly and become too large for surgical removal, which is the preferred first-line treatment for early-stage liver tumors. HAIP can either shrink the tumor (to make it operable) or extend a patient’s life with ongoing treatment.

How It Works

Physicians delicately implant a pump the size of a hockey puck near the patient’s liver so that it can deliver chemotherapy through the hepatic artery (the main liver artery). HAIP ensures that all of the chemotherapy drug administered attacks the tumor, and it limits the amount of side effects to the rest of the body.

The HAIP pump is often implanted during another tumor removal surgery to limit incisions. It is refilled by physicians through a catheter every 2-4 weeks. The pump provides a steady release of chemotherapy, which improves the treatment’s effectiveness.

Our oncologists who specialize in colorectal cancer and cancers of the liver are uniquely qualified to determine if HAIP is the best option for you based on advanced imaging and diagnostic tools. As rare experts in this exciting new technique, they receive referrals from providers throughout the Southeast.

HIPEC Program

Stage 4 cancer treatment options are limited, but our HIPEC Program treats many advanced cancers with an innovative two-step surgery consisting of cancer tissue removal followed by heated chemotherapy. It is used to treat a variety of cancers that occur in the abdomen and may extend life expectancy for patients with few other options. We were the first cancer center in the state to offer this procedure, known as CRS+HIPEC, in 2022.

CRS+HIPEC – How It Works

First the surgeons remove all visible cancer from the abdomen in a procedure called cytoreductive surgery (CRS) – this may involve removing part of the stomach, liver, spleen, or bowel. Then, the abdomen is flushed with heated intraperitoneal (meaning delivered into the abdomen) chemotherapy, or HIPEC. HIPEC is provided to eradicate invisible cancer cells that may still be floating or left behind in the area.

In some cases, surgery may be performed using smaller incisions and with a camera (called laparoscopic surgery, which is often robot-assisted). Patients may require chemotherapy before and after CRS+HIPEC.

Many cancers can be treated with CRS+HIPEC, including but not limited to:

  • Appendix cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Gastric cancer
  • Sarcoma

If you or a loved one might need a consult with our HIPEC Program, please call 205-934-3280.

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