Cancer Treatment Options


There are many different cancer treatment options available to patients. The options that the doctor will recommend as part of a person’s treatment plan will depend on the type of cancer that the patient has and the stage it is at.

Doctors will also consider the patient’s overall health and possible side effects of the treatment. The doctor will often work with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals that are focused on treating the patient through a variety of different methods and treatments. Keep reading to find out more about common cancer treatment options.

Common Cancer Treatment Options

There are many types of cancer treatments available as options for patients. The type of treatment that a person receives will depend on the type of cancer that they have and how advanced it is. A few of the most common cancer treatment options include:

Surgery

Surgery is used to remove the cancer from the body- which may include a tumor and surrounding tissue. There are many different options of performing surgery.

 A few of the most common surgical options include:

  • Open Surgery
    • This type of surgery often involves the patient receiving numbing treatment or being put under. The surgeon will use a scalpel and other sharp tools to remove the cancer and repair damage. After surgery, the body will need to heal and the area may be painful.
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery
    • This type of surgery does not require a large incision, rather a few small cuts. The surgeon will insert a tiny tube and camera which allows the surgeon to see what they are doing. The surgeon uses specialized tools to remove the cancerous tissue. This type of surgery generally does not take as long to recover from as open surgery.
  • Cryosurgery
    • This type of surgery uses extreme cold that is produced by liquid nitrogen or argon gas. It may be used to treats precancerous growths, skin cancer and precancerous growths.
  • Hyperthermia
    • This type of surgery involves small areas of the body being exposed to extremely high temperatures. The heat can kill cancer cells or make them more sensitive to certain medications. Radiofrequency ablation is a type of hyperthermia uses high energy waves to generate heat. Hyperthermia is a new type of treatment that is not widely available.
  • Photodynamic Therapy
    • This treatment uses drugs that react to specific lights. This type of therapy can kill cancer cells and relieve the symptoms of cancer.
  • Lasers
    • This type of surgery uses powerful light beams to cut through tissue and destroy cancerous growths or tumors. Laser surgery is often used to treat external tumors or harmful growths lining internal organs.

It is important to know what the risks and benefits are of the surgical option(s) that a doctor believes is the best option to treat a specific type of cancer. Patients should make sure to have an open dialogue with their medical care team so that they will be aware of what to expect before, during and after surgery.

Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to shrink and kill cancer cells. It is often used to shrink tumors. Radiation can slow the growth of cancer cells and ease symptoms caused by cancer including pain and breathing problems. Radiation requires multiple treatments over the span of a few days or weeks. The cancer cells keep dying after treatment has ended.

There are two main types of radiation therapy including:

  • External Beam
    • This type of radiation comes from a machine that targets radiation at cancer cells. The machine sends radiation to your targeted body area as it moves around in many directions. The radiation kills and shrinks the cancer cells.
       
  • Internal
    • This type of radiation therapy requires the radiation source to be put inside the body. If a solid source or liquid source that seeks out and kills the cancer.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that works to stop or slow down the growth and division of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can work to treat cancer, ease symptoms, help other treatments work better, and decrease the odds of the cancer returning. Chemotherapy may be used on its own or with other treatments.

Chemotherapy may be given in a variety of ways including:

  • Oral
    • Chemotherapy drugs may be pills, capsules or liquids that are taken by mouth
  • Injection
    • Chemotherapy drugs are given in a needle that goes through a muscle
  • Topical
    • The chemotherapy cream is applied directly to the skin
  • Intrathecal
    • Chemotherapy drugs are injected into the space between the tissue found between the brain and spinal cord
  • Intra-arterial
    • Chemotherapy is injected into the artery that leads to cancer

Chemotherapy can damage healthy cells in addition to killing cancer cells. It may have side effects including fatigue, nausea, mouth sores, hair loss and more.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that is increasing in popularity because it can help to boost the immune system. The immune system helps the body to fight off infections. The type of immunotherapy will determine how it is administered. Immunotherapy is given in a variety of ways including intravenously, orally, or topical administration.

There are many different types of immunotherapy that can help a person to fight off diseases including:

  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Cytokines
  • Treatment vaccines
  • Adoptive cell transfer

Immunotherapy can cause side effects including pain, redness, fever, chills, itchiness, weakness, fatigue and more.

There are many other cancer treatment options available including stem cell transplants, targeted therapy, precision therapy, photodynamic therapy and more.

A doctor and his or her medical team will work with a patient to determine what type of cancer treatment options may work best for their type of cancer, overall health, stage of cancer and more. Some cancer treatment plans utilize multiple types of treatment that will complement and work well together.