The cancer treatment options your doctor recommends depends on the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient's preferences and overall health. In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patient's overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team.
The most common cancer treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. These therapies may be used either alone or in combination with other therapies. Palliative treatment is treatment given to relieve symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment, such as pain. Other cancer treatment options include targeted therapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, and stem cell/bone marrow transplantation. More information on each of these treatments is below. Or, find more details about treatment for a specific type of cancer.
In addition, patients are encouraged to consider clinical trials when making treatment plan decisions. A clinical trial is a research study to test a new treatment to prove it is safe, effective, and possibly better than the standard treatment. Your doctor can help you review all clinical trial options. Learn more about clinical trials.
The first treatment a person is given is called first-line therapy. If that treatment stops working, then a person receives second-line therapy (and in some situations, third-line therapy may be available). Adjuvant therapy is treatment that is given after the first treatment (such as chemotherapy after surgery). Neoadjuvant therapy is treatment that is given before the primary treatment (such as radiation therapy before surgery).
Before beginning treatment, consider asking the doctor about the goals of treatment, how long the treatment will take, and the potential side effects. Knowing what to expect before treatment begins helps reduce any fear and anxiety you may be feeling about your cancer treatment plan. Find more questions to ask the doctor. It is also important that people with cancer and their families feel comfortable about their doctor and his or her recommended treatment plan. It is always appropriate to seek a second opinion.
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