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Cancer is treated and controlled in many ways, depending on the type, location, and stage of the disease. Here is a general description of cancer treatment types.

Biological therapy helps the body fight cancer, manages side effects, and helps prevent cancer. Tis type of treatment includes monoclonal antibodies, growth factors, and vaccines.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to fight cancer throughout the body. Most chemotherapy is given through a needle or catheter placed in a vein in the arm or through an implanted port in the chest. Some types of chemotherapy are taken by mouth.

Clinical trials study and discover new or improved ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent cancer. Some clinical trials discover new treatments. Others study new delivery methods or combinations of treatments already in use.

Complementary and integrative therapies are used along with standard treatments (such as surgery and chemotherapy) to help reduce symptoms, manage treatment side effects, and improve overall wellness. Acupuncture, massage therapy, dietary changes, and meditation are examples.

Hormone therapy keeps cancer cells from getting or using the hormones they need to grow. Hormone therapy may use medicines that stop hormone production or surgery to remove organs that make hormones.

Palliative care enhances cancer treatment by improving quality of life for patients. It helps manage pain and other cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. It also provides mental health, spiritual support, and assistance with medical decision making and advance care planning.

The type of cancer treatment you receive depends on the type, location, and stage of the disease.

Doctors often

use several treatment types in combination.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Doctors often use these two types of radiation therapy: external radiation from a machine, or internal radiation from radioactive material placed in or near the cancer cells.

Stem cell transplant is a procedure to replace cells that produce blood. Te patient receives high doses of chemotherapy, radiation, or both, which kill cancer cells and healthy cells in the bone marrow where blood is formed. Te patient then receives new blood-forming stem cells through an IV. Healthy blood cells develop from the transplanted stem cells.

Surgery removes the tumor and some tissue around it. Taking some nearby tissue may help prevent the tumor from growing back and can help the doctor know if all the cancer was removed. Te surgeon may also remove some nearby lymph nodes.

Targeted therapy is a type of biological therapy that uses medicines to find specific cancer cells and to stop cancer from growing.

Most people with cancer receive some combination of surgery,

chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

Your health care team will help you decide on the best treatment plan.


Watchful waiting (also called active surveillance or expectant management) means health care providers closely watch a patient’s condition, but do not give treatment unless symptoms appear or change.

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