Cancer care in Gainesville, Florida
The cancer specialists at North Florida Regional Medical Center offer comprehensive oncology services to patients in North Central Florida. Our oncology services are founded on three main pillars: advanced technology; experienced, dedicated physicians; and staff committed to patient support and safety.
Together with Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, we provide patients access to our global cancer network.
For more information about our oncology services, please call askSARAH at (352) 339-7000.
North Florida Regional Medical Center's oncology services are recognized by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program.
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 treatment services include:
- Medical Oncology
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
- Radiation oncology
- Surgical oncology
Types of cancer we treat
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 is most commonly diagnosed in women, but it can also affect men. The Florida Breast Center and The Women's Center work together at North Florida Regional Medical Center 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.Find a breast surgeon
Gastrointestinal/ Colorectal Surgery
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.Find a complex GI surgeon
Pancreatic Cancer: The Basics
The pancreas is a gland that makes hormones such as insulin. Hormones help your body to work. Pancreatic cancer is caused by pancreatic cells growing out of control. As the number of cells grow, they form into a tumor.
Pancreatic cancer that has spread from the pancreas to some other part of the body is called metastatic cancer.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Having high blood sugar or weighing more than you should
- Working as a chemist, working with coal or gas and metal workers
Signs of Pancreatic Cancer
Signs of pancreatic cancer start after the cancer has grown and spread to other parts of the body. Some may be:
- Losing weight or not feeling hungry
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Pain in the upper part of the belly or back
- Feeling weak
- Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up
- Having high blood sugar
Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
When your healthcare providers think you may have pancreatic cancer, they will do a full exam of your body and ask you questions about your health. They also may order tests, such as:
- Ultrasound or endoscopic ultrasound
- If a bile duct is blocked, you may have an endoscopic retrograde cholangiography or percutaneous trans-hepatic cholangiography
- Blood tests
What is a Whipple procedure and how is it performed?
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. The pancreas that is left will continue to make digestive juices and insulin.
Pylorus Preserving Whipple: This is 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
- Cancer of the ampulla
- Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors
- Some benign (non-cancerous) conditions
Gynecologic cancer is found in the female reproductive system and are 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 checkups 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.Find a gynecologic oncologist
Head and neck cancers
Our oncologists treat a variety of cancers in the head and neck affecting the following areas:
- Oral cavity
- 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.
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 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.
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
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Treatment plans may vary but can include surgical intervention, radiation therapy and/or plastic and reconstructive surgery.
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 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.
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.
What You Need To Know About Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy
Cancer in the Abdomen
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 (short for Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) is a treatment option for some patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis.
The most common cancers treated with HIPEC are:
- Appendix cancer
- Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP)
- Colorectal cancer
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Some patients with ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer or stomach (gastric) cancer may also benefit from HIPEC.
- 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.
- This treatment can improve your quality of life and lengthen your life.
- Side Effects:
- The heated chemotherapy inside of your abdomen may cause pain for the first few weeks. The pain will be treated while in you are in the hospital and after you are discharged.
- Common side effects are nausea, tiredness and thinning hair. Your doctor will explain more details about what to expect before, during and after this procedure.
Please keep a list of your questions to discuss with your doctor.
What is HIPEC?
HIPEC is an abbreviation for Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy.
Hyperthermic = heated
Intraperitoneal = inside of the abdomen
Chemotherapy = drugs used to kill cancer cells
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 Intravenous (IV) chemotherapy.
How is this done?
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 41-42ºC/107.5ºF 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.
NFRMC offers HIPEC to appropriate patients through our complex GI and GYN oncology providers. Find a doctor here:Find a complex GI Surgeon Find a gynecologic oncologist
Comprehensive cancer care team
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 care team includes:
- Board-certified oncologists and specialty physicians
- Case managers
- Licensed clinical dietitians
- Medical dosimetrists
- Medical physicists
- Oncology certified nurses
- Oncology nurse navigators
- Radiation therapists
- Social workers
- Surgical oncologists
Oncology nurse navigation
Our hospital works with Sarah Cannon to provide patients access to compassionate, knowledgeable nurse navigators. 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 gastrointestinal (GI) and gynecologic cancer nurse navigator
The Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center
The Cancer Center on the campus of North Florida Medical Center offers the following oncology services:
- High-dose rate brachytherapy (HDR-BT)
- Hydrogel treatment for prostate cancer
- Medical oncology, including chemotherapy
- Radiation oncology
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
For more information about The Cancer Center, please visit the Cancer Gainesville site.
North Florida Radiation Oncology
North Florida Radiation Oncology is the department of The Cancer Center where radiation therapy treatment for cancer takes place. Radiation oncology uses targeted beams of high-energy radiation to treat cancer.
Cancer support services
The Cancer Center offers several support groups where patients with cancer and survivors can find support, encouragement and love from people with similar experiences.
Our classes and events include:
- Multiple Myeloma Support Group
- Tools to Quit (smoking cessation)
- Breast Cancer Support Group
The American Society of Clinical Oncology also has a resource page on with support group information.
For more information on support groups, visit our calendar of events.
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 North Florida Regional Medical Center can provide guidance and resources for cancer survivors.
Cancer & 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. For more information, visit ReQuest Physical Therapy
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.
To register, please visit the Cancer Survivors Network™ website.
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.Personal Health Manager
Caregiver Resource Guide
The American Cancer Society 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.Caregiver Resource Guide
We want to hear from you
Do you have a desire to share your cancer story and inspire others? Did you have a special connection to your navigators, physician, or medical team? Do you want to help us improve cancer care at North Florida Regional Medical Center? We'd love to hear from you!
We'd love to share your cancer story throughout our communities. If you'd be interested in learning more, contact us below:
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Survival Story: Bill Foss
Survivor Story: Tina Karlen
Survivor Story: Fitz Koehler
Survivor Story: Blaire Crawford
Survivor Story: Kimarie Kleinsasser
About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute
North Florida Regional Medical Center is 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.
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.