Expert cancer care in Salt Lake City, Utah

At St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, our oncology experts and state-of-the-art technology ensure patients get the most precise diagnosis and treatments.

For more information about our cancer care services, call (801) 268-7102.

Our exceptional care for patients goes far beyond clinical diagnosis and cancer treatment. We don’t just target the cancer—we are dedicated to caring for the patient as a human being. Through support groups, dedicated time with therapists and pastoral caregivers and a hug whenever you need one, we do whatever we can to help you medically, emotionally and spiritually.

Types of cancer

Cancer is not just one disease—there are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start. For example, melanoma is cancer that begins in the melanocytes of the skin, which is one of many types of skin cancer.

However, cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:

Carcinoma: Carcinoma is cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

Sarcoma: Sarcoma is cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels or other connective or supportive tissue.

Leukemia: Leukemia is cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow. It produces large numbers of abnormal blood cells that enter the blood.

Lymphoma and myeloma: Lymphoma and myeloma are cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.

Central nervous system cancers: Central nervous system cancers are cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

Types of cancer we treat

If you live in Salt Lake County, you can depend on the Cancer Support Center at St. Mark’s Hospital for comprehensive cancer treatment and support. Our experienced providers and caregivers are here for you and your family—when you need us most.

We treat a variety of cancers, including but not limited to:

Breast cancer

Our breast cancer program includes both breast health assessment resources, mammogram services, various types of breast cancer treatments and more. 

Learn more about breast cancer.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer can start anywhere in the respiratory tract. Since the respiratory system is so complex, there are multiple types of lung cancer.

Lung cancer may be caused by several factors, including smoking. Learn more about smoking cessation.

Learn more about lung cancer symptoms and the types of lung cancer.

Colon cancer

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine, which includes the rectum and colon. Your risk for colon cancer increases after the age of 50, and it can affect both men and women. Colon cancer treatment will vary patient to patient because of the intricacy of the digestive tract.

Colon cancer screenings are essential because you may not always have symptoms. However, colorectal cancer symptoms include:

  • Frequent gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • A feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • Fatigue
  • Blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

Gynecological cancer

About 107,000 women are diagnosed with various types of gynecologic cancer each year. It’s essential to be treated for gynecologic cancer by a gynecologic oncologist.

Learn more about gynecological cancer.

Metastatic cancers

Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread from the original site to another area of the body. When the cancer cells metastasize, which is called metastasis, they do not change. So, lung cancer that spreads to the brain is called metastatic lung cancer. It wouldn’t be considered brain cancer.

Cancer cells may spread through different channels, such as the lymph nodes or blood vessels. All types of cancer are capable of spreading. However, there’s a great chance of the cancer metastasizing if it’s diagnosed at an advanced stage. Some primary cancers are more likely spread to certain parts of the body.

Breast cancer may spread to the:

  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Bones
  • Brain

Lung cancer may spread to the:

  • Adrenal gland
  • Other lung
  • Bones
  • Brain
  • Liver

Melanoma skin cancer may spread to the:

  • Lungs
  • Muscles
  • Bones
  • Brain
  • Liver

Prostate cancer may spread to the:

  • Lungs
  • Adrenal gland
  • Bones
  • Liver

Colon cancer may spread to:

  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the abdominal organs

Cancer treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah

Patients diagnosed with cancer have a number of treatment choices. These choices will depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, along with factors such as your age, health status and personal desires.

Many people feel the need to rush into treatment in order to address the cancer as fast as possible. However, most patients have plenty of time to educate themselves to ensure the decision they make is the right one for them.

One type of treatment may be required to control or cure your cancer. Each treatment option has different benefits and side effects. To help make your treatment a success, you must follow your home care instructions and promptly report unusual symptoms to your healthcare team promptly. 

Cancer treatments at St. Mark’s include:

Radiation oncology

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to treat cancer by preventing cancer cells from multiplying and growing. The goal is to stop, or at least slow, the growth of the tumor, and in many cases, the tumor may be destroyed.

During your initial radiation therapy consultation, a radiation oncologist will discuss the length of treatment, side effects and any other tests that may be necessary.

Simulation is the next phase of the radiation therapy planning process. This phase involves using a simulator (X-ray equipment) to find the best position to treat the cancer. You will also be given small permanent or semi-permanent markings to help the radiation therapist find the treatment area for future treatment.

Our radiation therapists in Salt Lake City perform your radiation therapy. During radiation, you will lie on a table that raises you into position under the radiation machine, called a linear accelerator. It is essential to be still during the treatment, and your body’s position will depend on your specific cancer and condition.

Protective blocks may be applied during the treatment to protect healthy tissues from the radiation. Your radiation therapist will monitor the entire treatment process from an outside room.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, commonly known as chemo, uses medication to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. More than one type of chemotherapy medication may be administered at a time because some drugs are more successful together. Chemotherapy can be administered in a variety of ways, such as intravenous, oral, intramuscular or intrathecal.

The intravenous method involves inserting an IV into the lower part of your arm. A more permanent catheter may be suggested to avoid continuously sticking the vein for treatment. The permanent catheter will be inserted surgically into the chest area, and your nurse will explain the proper way to care for the catheter area.

If your doctor suggests an implanted port to receive chemo, the round port will be surgically inserted between your neck and shoulder, or in the lower arm. Your nurse will explain how to care for the port area to avoid infection.

Receiving chemo orally simply means you will be provided pills or liquid to be taken by mouth. An intramuscular chemo treatment means the medication is injected into your muscle. For certain types of cancer that may spread to the nervous system, medication may be injected into the spinal cord—also known as intrathecal chemo.

The chemo drugs and schedule your doctor suggests will depend on your specific cancer and condition.

Get answers to commonly asked questions about chemotherapy.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation, applies radiation directly in and around a cancer. This type of radiation helps kill cancer cells, while sparing surrounding organs from excessive radiation. Brachytherapy is an effective treatment tool for cervical, prostate, breast and skin cancer, as well as various types of tumors.

Brachytherapy radiation sources can be placed either temporarily or permanently, and the duration of brachytherapy will depend on many different factors. Brachytherapy may be used alone, or with external beam radiation or hormone therapy, depending on the stage of the cancer.

Learn more about brachytherapy for breast cancer and brachytherapy prostate cancer.

Surgery

Surgery is another effective method of cancer treatment. Surgery may be suggested before you begin radiation or chemo, or may be recommended after the therapy has had an opportunity to shrink the tumor.

Learn more about cancer surgery in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Genetic testing for cancer

Our genetic screening program in Salt Lake City, Utah can help you understand your risk for cancer by providing genetic counseling and a personalized risk assessment. Genetic testing for cancer gives you the knowledge to help you proactively screen or protect from developing cancer.  A licensed and certified genetic counselor provides all of the services.

Heredity cancer risk assessment

People often ask, “Is cancer hereditary?” The answer is that most cancers are sporadic and not attributed to a familial risk. However, some cancers occur because of hereditary conditions passed on from generation to generation.

Scientists have identified several genes that, when altered, can increase an individual's risk of developing a variety of cancers including cancer of the breast, ovaries, uterus, pancreas and colon. If you or your family has a significant history of cancer, you may be at risk for a hereditary cancer condition.

You may be at risk for hereditary cancer if your family has experienced:

  • Early onsets of cancer, usually under the age of 50
  • Multiple cancers in one individual, such as bilateral breast cancer
  • Multiple cancers in a family in more than one generation
  • Rare or unusual cancers, such as male breast cancer
  • Multiple family members with the same type of cancer
  • Family member with a known genetic mutation
  • Pancreatic cancer with breast or ovarian cancer present on the same side of the family
  • Breast and/or ovarian cancer in a family with Jewish ancestry
  • Medullary thyroid or adrenocortical cancer diagnosed at any age
  • Triple negative breast cancer (ER–, PR–, HER2–pathology) before age 60
  • Invasive serous ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age
  • Melanoma diagnosed before age 40 or in multiple members on the same side of the family

Genetic counseling process

If you are interested in learning more about your risk for cancer, or your doctor thinks you are at high-risk, you can be referred to genetic counseling services for a consultation with a certified genetic counselor. A genetic counselor is specialized degree and experience in medical genetics and counseling.

The counselor will work with you and your healthcare provider to:

  • Help you decide if genetic testing is right for you
  • Evaluate personal and family medical history
  • Facilitate risk assessment genetic testing for you and family members
  • Provide you with support and guidance throughout the testing experience
  • Develop a plan tailored to your specific needs that may include recommendations for ongoing surveillance and preventative measures
  • Disclose genetic test results and discuss recommendations

Breast cancer risk assessment

As part of our Cancer Genetics Program, every patient getting a breast imaging procedure at St. Mark's Women's Diagnostic Center will also receive a complimentary risk assessment to determine if they are at high-risk for developing breast cancer. If your results show that you are at risk, you may discuss this with your doctor and a referral to genetic counselor or specialist can be arranged.

Visit www.breastcancergenescreen.org to find out if you may be good candidate for genetic counseling.

Contact us

Let us answer your questions about cancer care services at St. Mark’s Hospital. Call us (801) 268-7102.