HEALTH and MEDICAL EDUCATION

HEALTH and MEDICAL EDUCATION

Standard Methods of Treatment for Cancer

Oncologists select from a number of options when treating cancer, depending on the type and stage of the tumor involved. The major treatments currently available are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. Often, targeting cancerous tumors requires the artful combination of more than one type of cancer therapy.

There are four standard methods of treatment for cancer: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and biologic therapy. Clinical trials may be an option for some as cancer treatment who meet certain study criteria. Others may choose alternative cancer treatments, which are usually not FDA-approved and often given in locations outside of the U.S. When initially diagnosed with cancer, a cancer specialist, an oncologist, will provide you with the cancer treatment options. He or she will recommend the best treatment plan based on your type of cancer, how far it has spread, and other important factors like your age and general health. Ultimately, you are the one who makes your treatment decisions based on your doctor's recommendations, possible second opinions, and other information gathered from qualified professionals.

Surgery

Surgery can be used to prevent, treat, stage (determine how advanced the cancer is), and diagnose cancer. In relation to cancer treatment, surgery is done to remove tumors or as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. It is often performed in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. For those whose cancer is not treatable, palliative surgery may be an option to relieve pain that may be caused by the cancer. Palliative surgery is not intended to treat or cure the cancer, or even to prolong life, but more to lessen discomfort.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses of drugs to eliminate cancer cells. Unlike surgery, chemotherapy affects the entire body, not just a specific part. It works by targeting rapidly multiplying cancer cells. Unfortunately, other types of cells in our bodies also multiply at high rates, like hair follicle cells and the cells that line our stomachs. This is why chemo can cause side effects like hair loss and an upset stomach. Chemotherapy is most commonly given by pill or intravenously (IV), but can be given in other ways. A single type of chemotherapy, or a combination of drugs, may be prescribed for a specific length of time. Like surgery, chemotherapy can be prescribed alone, in conjunction with radiation therapy or biologic therapy.

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