Cancer treatment will be tailored to your specific type and stage of cancer as well as your lifestyle. Treatment will include one or more of the following:
• Targeted Therapies
• Radiation therapy
• Biological therapy
• Hormonal therapy
Chemotherapy (commonly called “chemo”) is the treatment using strong drugs that destroy cancer cells. Chemo drugs may be given by mouth or by injection. These drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer that may have spread to different parts of the body.
Chemotherapy is given in cycles, a treatment period followed by a rest period. The cycle and number of treatments you will receive are determined by the therapy agents you receive and what type and stage of cancer you have.
The most common side effects of chemo are nausea and vomiting, short-term hair lass, increased chance of infections and tiredness. These side effects can be controlled with medicines and supportive care. Different therapies have different side effects. Your doctor will discuss your potential side effects and options for treating them.
As more is learned about changes within cells that cause cancer, drugs are being developed to specifically target these changes. While these drugs may still be referred to as chemotherapy in that they treat cancer, targeted therapies work differently than chemotherapy drugs. They recognize and attack cancer cells without damage to normal cells.
Targeted therapies interfere with cell growth or tumor blood vessel development, promote the destruction of specific cancer cells, interfere with hormonal stimulation of cancer growth, and stimulate the immune system to destroy specific cancer cells.
Surgery plays a key role in diagnosing and determining how much cancer may have spread. A surgical procedure known as a biopsy involves the removal of a small piece of tissue from the body that is examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.
Surgery can also be used in treatment. Surgery can be curative when cancer is found in only one area and can be entirely removed. Surgery can also be used to remove some but not all of a tumor, called “debulking.” Debulking surgery may be used in combination with other therapies.
Radiation therapy is a localized therapy that kills cancer cells. Special equipment sends radiation to cancer cells, preventing their growth and division. Radiation therapy may be used to slow the growth of the cancer, to reduce problems caused by growing tumors or to treat symptoms you are experiencing.
Substances produced naturally by the body can be re-produced in laboratories. Know as biological therapies, these agents promote and use your body’s own immune system to fight cancer or lessen the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.