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4 Standard Treatments for Cancer

By Denise DeWitt HERWriter
 
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Cancer is a disease caused by abnormal cells that grow out of control. In early stages of cancer, abnormal cells are localized in one part of the body and are often clumped together in a tumor. In the last stage of cancer, cells can be dispersed to other parts of the body and may have grown into tumors in more than one organ or type of tissue.

If you have cancer, your doctor will recommend the best treatments depending on the type of cancer (what kind of cells it originated in), the stage of the cancer (how bad it is), certain characteristics about the cancer cells, and your overall health.

There are two general categories for cancer treatments:

Local treatments – These methods treat the cancer and the area immediately around the tumor but not the rest of the body.

Systemic treatments – The medications and other treatments travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells anywhere in the body.

There are four standard methods used as treatments for cancer:

Surgery is used to remove tumors and cancer cells by physically cutting them out of the body. This method is often used along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. When cancer is contained, surgery may be able to remove all the cancer and provide a cure.

When removing the entire cancer is not an option, surgery can be used to remove as much as possible to prolong life, or may be used to reduce discomfort caused by cancer even if life cannot be extended. Surgery is a local treatment that affects only the area where the cancer is located.

Chemotherapy (chemo) is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Most chemotherapy drugs are given by pill or intravenously (IV). Chemo works by targeting fast growing cancer cells.

But because it is a systemic treatment, chemo drugs also affect other fast growing cells including hair follicles and the lining of the stomach. So chemo can cause undesirable side effects including hair loss and nausea.

Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses rays of energy to shrink tumors by killing cancer cells.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Pat Elliott

There is another treatment, targeted cancer therapies, now a standard for some cancers and growing in use.Thousands of cancer patients are survivors today because of them, and I am one of them.

According to the National Cancer Institute, "Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression...By focusing on molecular and cellular changes that are specific to cancer, targeted cancer therapies may be more effective than other types of treatment, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and less harmful to normal cells."

More information at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/targeted

October 5, 2011 - 9:06am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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