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Oncology

Oncology refers to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Oncology treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation, medication or surgery. Oncologists can specialize in one of three fields of oncology: medical, radiation or surgery.

HCAH_Specialty_Oncology

Cancer specialists in Gainesville

In partnership with Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, HCA Florida North Florida Hospital's oncologists, cancer specialists and clinicians deliver a range of oncology services.

Our hospital offers an oncology staff that provides each patient with personalized care throughout their cancer journey, from diagnosis to survivorship. We recognize the importance of treating your cancer and you as an individual. We work to restore your quality of life while providing the emotional support you need when determining diagnosis and treatment options.

Our cancer treatment program

Together with Sarah Cannon, we provide patients access to our global cancer network.

Oncology services

No matter what type of cancer you have, our team provides everything you need — from diagnosis and staging to treatment and follow-up care. Our services are recognized by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program. Our treatment services include:

  • Biotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Medical oncology
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
  • Radiosurgery
  • Radiation oncology
  • Surgical oncology

For more information about our oncology services, please call askSARAH at (352) 339-7000.

Diagnosing cancer

Cancer is diagnosed in stages. Our cancer care team will determine the stage of your cancer, which will guide the treatment plan.

To better understand a diagnosis, additional testing is often required. Tests will differ based on the type of cancer that is diagnosed but may include diagnostic imaging, blood work, biopsies and scope procedures.

Brain tumor care

If you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, it is normal to be overwhelmed. We are here to offer the compassion and medical expertise you need on your journey. Treatment is available for malignant (cancerous) and benign (noncancerous) brain tumors.

Our oncology and neurological care services combine to provide patients the multidisciplinary care they need. Treatment options may include neurosurgical intervention, nonsurgical therapies and/or palliative care services.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women, but it can also affect men. The Florida Breast Center and the women's care team work together to detect breast cancer early, when treatment is most effective.

We offer breast health services, including digital mammography. If breast cancer is diagnosed, our oncologists are here to help you understand your diagnosis and treatment options. In addition to breast cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgical intervention, we also offer breast reconstruction services.

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer care

GI cancers affect the organs that make up the digestive system. When a patient is diagnosed with GI cancer, our oncology and gastrointestinal services combine to offer interdisciplinary care. We treat a variety of GI cancers, including:

  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Small and large intestinal cancer
  • Liver cancer

GI cancers are often complex, which is why our multidisciplinary care team meets regularly to review cases and develop personalized care for each patient. Treatments may include surgical intervention, nonsurgical therapies and/or palliative care services.

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)

HIPEC is a procedure in which heated chemotherapy drugs are administered directly into the inside of the abdomen. It is a part of the treatment plan that is often used before or after IV chemotherapy. Our hospital offers HIPEC to appropriate patients through our complex GI providers.

Your abdomen (or belly) is the space between your chest and pelvis. Many of your organs, such as your intestines, liver and spleen, are located inside the abdomen. The lining that covers the inside of your abdomen is called the peritoneum. Cancer can start in the peritoneum or cancer can spread there from other organs. This type of cancer is known as peritoneal carcinomatosis. HIPEC is a treatment option for some patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis.

The most common cancers treated with HIPEC are:

  • Appendix cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP)

Some patients with ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer or stomach (gastric) cancer may also benefit from HIPEC.

Benefits of HIPEC

With HIPEC, the chemotherapy is targeted to a specific area of your body instead of going throughout your entire system. This method reduces or eliminates some of the side effects you would get with IV administration. Heating the chemotherapy makes the cancer cells more receptive to the drug. This means that the drugs will be more easily absorbed and more effectively kill the cancer.

How HIPEC works

This is a two-step procedure. First, you will need an operation to remove all of the tumor your surgeon is able to see. This is called cytoreductive surgery. Next, the surgeon will administer the HIPEC treatment while you are still in the operating room. The chemotherapy solution is heated to 41-42 C/107.5 F and infused continuously into the abdominal space for 90 minutes. This procedure allows the chemotherapy to bathe all of the surfaces inside of the abdomen and kill the remaining microscopic (non-visible) cells. You will remain asleep and comfortable during the entire procedure.

After HIPEC is completed, your surgeon may need to create an ostomy, which is an opening from the intestine to outside the body. This opening allows stool/feces to exit into a bag called a pouch. A special nurse will visit you to train you how to care for the ostomy.

HIPEC can also be beneficial for people with frequent build-up of fluid in their abdomen, known as ascites. This procedure is completed through a scope (laparoscope), not an open cut, so recovery time is shorter.

Common side effects of HIPEC include nausea, tiredness and thinning hair. Your doctor will explain more details about this risks and benefits of HIPEC and what to expect before, during and after this procedure.

Gynecologic cancer care

Gynecologic cancer is found in the female reproductive system and is often treated by physicians specializing in gynecologic oncology. We treat the following types of gynecologic cancer:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

Gynecologic cancer screening begins with regular pelvic exams and Pap smears performed during by your healthcare provider. Discuss any symptoms with you provider, such as abdominal, menstruation and urinary issues, to determine if additional tests are needed to screen for gynecologic cancer.

Treatment options for gynecologic cancer may include surgical intervention, nonsurgical therapies and/or palliative care.

Head and neck cancer care

Our oncologists treat a variety of cancers in the head and neck affecting the following areas:

  • Oral cavity
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Paranasal sinuses
  • Nasal cavity
  • Salivary glands

Treatment options for head and neck cancers vary but may include surgical intervention, nonsurgical therapies and/or speech pathology.

Lung cancer care

There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Our specialists provide comprehensive care for both types of lung cancer.

The earlier lung cancer is detected, the better the outcome. We offer a lung cancer screening program for patients at a high risk of developing lung cancer. This program promotes early detection and increase survivorship.

If you receive a lung cancer diagnosis, our cancer care team is here every step of the way. We also have a dedicated lung cancer nurse navigator who will coordinate your care. Treatments for lung cancer may include surgical intervention, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, palliative care services and/or participation in clinical trials.

Metastatic cancer care

Metastatic cancers are cancers that have spread from the primary site into other areas in the body. We approach metastasized cancers with a multidisciplinary approach that includes surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurse navigators, radiologists and other support services.

Metastatic cancer treatment varies based on the site(s), stage and symptoms.

Pancreatic cancer care

The pancreas is a gland that makes hormones such as insulin. Hormones help your body to function. Pancreatic cancer is caused by pancreatic cells growing out of control. As the number of cells grow, they form into a tumor.

A Whipple procedure is a surgery that can be used to treat some cases of pancreatic cancer. There are two types of Whipple procedures commonly used:

  • Standard Whipple (pancreaticoduodenectomy): removal of the pancreatic head (and at times the body), gallbladder, bile duct and a part of both the stomach (pylorus), small intestine (duodenum) and nearby lymph nodes; pancreas that is left will continue to make digestive juices and insulin
  • Pylorus-preserving Whipple: the same as a standard Whipple, but the pylorus (the opening from the stomach to the small intestine) is left in place

During these procedures, the remaining common bile duct and pancreas will be connected to the small intestine. This is done so that pancreatic enzymes and bile can pass through to the small intestine.

A Whipple procedure can be done to treat some cases of:

  • Pancreatic head cancer
  • Duodenum cancer
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Cancer of the ampulla
  • Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors
  • Some benign (non-cancerous) conditions

Skin cancer care

Skin cancer is the result of an uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells and is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed every year. Our cancer team treats multiple types of skin cancer, including:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

Treatment plans may vary but can include surgical intervention, radiation therapy and/or plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Thyroid cancer care

Thyroid cancer develops from the tissues of the thyroid gland, which are found at the front of the neck. Our cancer care team uses the least invasive therapies available to treat thyroid cancer at its earliest stage possible. Additional treatments are available and depend upon each patient's needs.

Urologic cancer care

Urologic cancer is found in the organs that make up the urinary system, which includes the bladder, kidneys, prostate and testicles.

Treatments will vary based on your specific diagnosis but may include surgical intervention and nonsurgical therapies. Many urologic cancers can now be treated with the aid of robot-assisted surgery, a type of minimally invasive surgery.

Prostate cancer treatment

The prostate is the male reproductive gland that produces fluid found in semen. It is typically the size of a walnut and located below the bladder, in front of the rectum and surrounds the urethra. Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland and has the ability to spread to surrounding structures.

Most men with prostate cancer do not experience any symptoms, which is why routine physical exams are so important. Prostate cancer can be diagnosed in a physical exam or with a blood test.

Treatments for prostate cancer may vary but can include conservative management, radiation therapy or a prostatectomy — the surgical removal of the prostate.

Our cancer center

We offer a variety of services to help patients and their families navigate the cancer journey.

Cancer and fatigue program

Our partners at ReQuest Physical Therapy offer a cancer survivorship program that is designed to address cancer-related fatigue, malaise or weakness by stimulating metabolic changes. The program includes exercise, nutrition counseling and massage therapy.


Oncology nurse navigation

Our nurse navigators help guide patients through the phases of living with cancer.

If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, our nurse navigators are available to serve as your advocate. They also assist in helping you and your family understand each part of your treatment, while also supporting your physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

We have specialized nurse navigators, including:

  • Breast cancer nurse navigator
  • Lung cancer nurse navigator
  • Complex GI and gynecologic cancer nurse navigator
Cancer support and survivorship

When cancer care and treatments have completed, cancer survivors remain at risk for the physical and emotional impact associated to their cancer care. Cancer navigators from our hospital an provide guidance and resources for cancer survivors. The American Society of Clinical Oncology also has a resource page on with support group information.


Radiation oncology

Radiation oncology uses targeted beams of high-energy radiation to treat cancer.

We offer a variety of radiation therapy treatments, including:

  • Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI)
  • Brachytherapy, high dose rate and low dose rate
  • Conformal 3D radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
  • Hydrogel treatment for prostate cancer
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Radiosurgery (SRS/SBRT)
  • Volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT or rapid Arc)

Additional resources

Additional cancer care resources include:

Caregivers Survivors Network

The Cancer Survivors Network is a free online community created by and for people with cancer and their families. This online community is a welcoming, safe place for people to find hope and inspiration from others who have overcome cancer. We offer discussion boards, chatrooms and a personal web space to tell your story, blog, post images and exchange messages with other members.

Personal health manager

It can be hard to keep track of all the information that you get about your diagnosis and treatment. But, keeping this information organized can help you feel less stressed and more prepared to talk with your doctor. The American Cancer Society' personal health manager can help.

Caregiver resource guide

The American Cancer Society's caregiver resource guide is a tool for people who are caring for someone with cancer. It can help you: learn how to care for yourself as a caregiver, better understand what your loved one is going through, develop skills for coping and caring, and take steps to help protect your health and well-being.


About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

Part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally trusted care with the support of a globally recognized network.


askSARAH helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially trained nurses are available 24/7, and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (352) 339-7000 or chat online at askSARAHnow.


First HIPEC Patient Tells Her Cancer Story

64-year old Tina Karlen was diagnosed with Stage 4 Appendicle Mucinous Adenocarcinoma, a slow growing type of abdominal cancer but one that would eventually take her life. But she found hope at North Florida Hospital with Dr. Francisco Macedo of Gainesville Surgical Group. He performed North Florida Hospital's first ever Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS) with Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) on her, and now she's on her way to a full recovery-without cancer being in her way. Here's her story.
Tina Karlen

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