Surgery is often the first treatment choice for many cancers. If the cancer appears to be contained to one area (localized), surgery may be used to remove it along with any other surrounding tissue that might contain cancer cells. Common terms referred to for surgeries of this nature are lumpectomy and mastectomy. If the cancer has not spread to other areas of the body, surgery is more likely to be successful. Other treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy may be used along with surgery, either before or after.
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells.
Outcomes of Chemotherapy
Depending on the type of cancer that you have and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can be given for different outcomes:
- Cure Cancer: chemotherapy destroys cancer cells to the point that your doctor cannot detect them in your body and they will not grow back.
- Control Cancer: chemotherapy keeps cancer from spreading, slows its growth or destroys cancer cells that have spread to other parts of your body.
- Ease Cancer Symptoms: tumors that are causing pain or pressure decrease in size and help make you more comfortable. This can also be called "palliative care".
Chemotherapy treatment schedules vary. Things that determine how often you get your treatment are:
- The type of cancer that you have
- How advanced your cancer is
- The type of chemotherapy that you will be receiving
- How your body reacts to the chemotherapy
Ways Chemotherapy is Administered
Chemotherapy can be given in many ways:
- Injection: given as a shot in a muscle or directly under your skin
- Intravenous: given directly into a vein
- Orally: in a pill, tablet or liquid that you would swallow
Radiation therapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for cancer. The use of high-energy radiation can destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Types of Radiation
Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy).
Treatment schedules vary from days to weeks, depending on each case and the type of cancer.
IOERT (Intraoperative Electron Radiation Therapy)
IOERT is the administration of radiation while a patient is undergoing cancer surgery. Learn more »
Radiotherapy is commonly used for the treatment of cancer, and may be used as the primary therapy. It is also common to combine radiotherapy with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or some mixture of the three. Most common cancer types can be treated with radiotherapy in some way. The precise treatment intent (curative, adjuvant, neoadjuvant, therapeutic, or palliative) will depend on the tumor type, location, and stage, as well as the general health of the patient.
A new option in radiation therapy is breast brachytherapy that prevents unnecessary radiation exposure to normal tissue. Learn more about breast brachytherapy »