Types of Treatment
Cancer treatment depends on a variety of factors. Because
no two cancers are identical and each individual reacts differently
to both disease and treatment, every case is unique. Physicians
take into account the type of cancer, its stage, its size
and location in your body, and your general health, and then
develop a plan for you. Because of all the factors involved
in cancer diagnosis, there is no one, basic treatment. Often,
a treatment plan involves more than one way of killing cancer
cells. The three most common treatments are surgery, radiation
therapy, and chemotherapy.
The surgical removal of diseased tissue or an organ is often
the first step in cancer treatment. If a patient is healthy
enough to withstand surgery and has localized cancers that
have not spread to other areas of the body, surgery is usually
recommended. It is often used with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Surgery also is performed to relieve pain or to remove a tumor
that is the result of the spread of cancer.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy or irradiation,
is used to kill cancer cells within a certain area in the
body. It may be used before surgery to reduce the size of
a tumor, or during or after surgery to reduce the chance of
the disease spreading. Radiation may also be used with chemotherapy
or as a way to treat cancer symptoms. The treatment, which
uses high-energy x-rays, gamma rays or electrons to destroy
the ability of cells to grow and divide, can reach areas that
surgery cannot, and causes few side effects.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to cure cancer, decrease pain,
keep cancer from spreading or shrink a tumor prior to surgery.
Chemotherapy is often combined with other treatment options
such as surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy may be given in
several ways: orally (pills or liquid), by injection (intravenous
or intratumor) or through an internal or external pump.xv
Often a combination of drugs is used, either one at a time
Chemotherapy treatments can be given daily, weekly or monthly,
depending on the time needed in between treatments for normal
cells to rebuild and grow. New chemotherapy has been developed
with fewer side effects. In addition, better medications are
available to lessen symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue
and risk of infection.