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Treatment Protocols for Cancer: Overview

How is cancer treated?

Specific treatment for cancer will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your overall health and medical history

  • Extent of the disease--type, grade, stage, and location

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

What are the four goals of treatment?

  • Successful treatment (cure)

  • Prevention (keep cancer from developing)

  • Prolonged life (keep the cancer under control)

  • Palliation (Palliation is treatment for a symptom of the cancer, such as pain. It is not a treatment for the cancer itself. The goal of palliation treatment is to improve the quality of life, and provide comfort and support.)

What are the standard types of cancer treatment?

Listed below are the conventional, primary methods of treating cancer:

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Hormone therapy

  • Immunotherapy/biological therapy

Cancer may also be treated with:

  • Adjuvant therapy. This combines two or more treatments. This generally refers to surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation.

  • Stem cell transplant. Transplantation of blood-forming stem cells allows patients to get high doses of chemotherapy, radiation, or both. The high doses destroy both cancer cells and normal blood cells in the bone marrow. After the treatment, healthy, blood-forming stem cells are given to the patient. New blood cells develop from these transplanted stem cells.

  • Prophylactic or preventive treatment. Treatment is sometimes given even when the cancer has not appeared, or all the cancer is thought to have been removed, especially if there is a significant risk that the cancer will come back later. This may be considered adjuvant therapy if it is given after curative surgery.

Treatment Protocols for Cancer: Overview - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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