Cancer treatments

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we believe in creating individualized treatment plans that target cancer with innovative treatments while helping you live as normally as possible. We use technology that helps to minimize side effects and improve your quality of life. Early on, you will receive an individualized treatment plan, which may include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery depending on the type and location of the disease.

Using a multidisciplinary approach to care, our medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists collaborate to develop a treatment plan that incorporates a combination of advanced cancer therapies tailored to your individual needs.

Medical oncology

A medical oncologist specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer with medicine, including chemotherapy and other drugs. Chemotherapy (chemo) is a cancer treatment that comes in several forms: pills, shots or intravenous (IV) injections. It differs from surgery or radiation in that medicine travels throughout the entire body, rather than being localized in one area. This is important because chemotherapy can reach cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.

Chemo is administered in cycles, with a rest period following each cycle to give the body time to recover. Chemo may be given before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to reduce the chances of the cancer returning. Side effects vary with the amount and type of chemo. Your doctor and nurse will talk with you about ways to manage any possible side effects.

Radiation oncology

Edward-Elmhurst Health is proud to offer leading-edge radiation oncology treatment options to our patients. We were among the first in Illinois to employ intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and Trilogy image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) in a community practice setting. We are a leading provider in the following treatments:

IGRT (Trilogy image-guided radiotherapy) uses sophisticated real-time imaging to precisely target tumors and place patients in the best position for treatment. IGRT is especially beneficial for tumors that change locations on a daily basis.

IMRT (Intensity-modulated radiation therapy) is an advanced mode of high-precision radiotherapy that allows for the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the three-dimensional (3-D) shape of the tumor by modulating—or controlling—the intensity of the radiation beam in multiple small volumes. This means we can control the intensity of the radiation therapy, which can reduce side-effects.

SBRT (Stereotactic body radiotherapy) uses advanced imaging techniques to deliver a targeted radiation dose to a tumor. This means less healthy tissue gets damaged by radiation. Preserving healthy tissue is important for cancer patients whose tumors are near or in essential organs.

SRS (Stereotactic radiosurgery) is a form of radiation therapy that focuses high-powered X-rays on a small area of the body. Other types of radiation therapy are more likely to affect nearby healthy tissue. Stereotactic radiosurgery better targets the abnormal area. Despite its name, radiosurgery is a radiation treatment, not a surgical procedure.


The CyberKnife® Center of Chicago is now located in the Nancy W. Knowles Cancer Center at Elmhurst Hospital. Cyberknife delivers precise beams of high-dose radiation to areas in which traditional radiation would be too damaging to the surrounding tissue. This technology is used to treat tumors in a wide range of locations—including those in the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas and prostate—while protecting normal tissue.

Surgical oncology

Our approach to surgical oncology emphasizes teamwork and interdisciplinary care. According to the American Cancer Society, surgical removal offers the best odds for a cure for cancers that haven’t spread to other parts of the body. At the Edward-Elmhurst, our goal is always to provide the most effective treatment in the least invasive manner. Sometimes one procedure is all that’s necessary to examine and completely remove a tumor; in other cases, several different procedures are required for treatment. We’re focused on making the cancer treatment journey as comfortable as it can be. Below are just a few of the surgical oncology treatments we offer:


Cancers that are located in the abdominal cavity can be difficult to treat, especially when they have spread to the lining. The cancers that can fit into this category include colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, cancer of the appendix and gastric cancer, as well as some cancers from mesothelioma and a rare form of cancer called peritoneal carcinomatosis.

A novel procedure called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) combines surgery, heat and chemotherapy, creating a powerful treatment that can dramatically improve the quality of life , and sometimes even extend it, for patients with these types of cancer. HIPEC is available at Edward Hospital. You, your surgical oncologist and the rest of your multidisciplinary care team will determine if HIPEC is appropriate for you.

Watch a video about how HIPEC helps cancer patients

Learn more

Partial and major hepatectomy (liver resection)

Cancer can begin in the liver, the body’s largest organ. More commonly, though, cancer found in the liver has spread from another part of the body. A partial or major hepatectomy can be performed at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Interventional radiology

Interventional radiologists at Edward-Elmhurst Health employ minimally invasive, medical imaging-guided procedures to diagnose and treat disease in nearly every organ system.

Our interventional radiologists provide consultation and treatment options for a myriad of diseases, including peripheral arterial disease, deep venous thrombosis, varicose veins, uterine fibroids, vertebral compression fractures, varicoceles, liver cancer and much more.

Learn more about our interventional radiology services


Edward Hospital is one of only three hospitals in the Chicago area to offer NanoKnife surgery, another option used to treat certain patients with advanced pancreatic, liver and soft tissue cancers.

The NanoKnife System offers a less invasive surgical treatment with few or no side effects. NanoKnife is typically one part of a patient’s treatment, along with chemotherapy and radiation.

Learn more about our interventional radiology services

da Vinci Surgical System

The da Vinci® Surgical System uses breakthrough technology to offer a minimally invasive alternative for many complex surgical procedures. The system allows your surgeon to insert miniature instruments and a tiny high-definition 3-D camera through a series of quarter-inch incisions.

Using hand controls, your surgeon guides robotic arms holding laparoscopic surgical instruments while advanced technology converts the large hand movements into precise, small movements. The robotic "wrists" can rotate a full 360 degrees, enabling your surgeon to control the miniature surgical instruments with unprecedented accuracy, flexibility and range of motion.

Because this technology uses fewer, smaller incisions, you benefit from significantly less post-operative pain, less blood loss, less scarring, shorter recovery time and a faster return to your normal daily activities.

Learn more about the da Vinci Surgical System and our other surgical services and learn how to prepare for surgery.

Pancreatic cancer treatments

There are several different types of cancer that can develop in the pancreas, a small organ located behind the stomach. Early stage pancreatic cancer has no symptoms so the disease is most often detected in the advanced stages. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, the three main types of treatment we offer for pancreatic cancers are the whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, and total pancreatectomy.

Hepatobiliary treatments

The hepatobiliary system refers to the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts, and how they work together to make bile. For cancers that occur in this area, Edward-Elmhurst offers minimally invasive liver resection, radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors, and integrative liver therapy with interventional radiology.