How is cancer treated?
Treatment of cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to best provide early screening tests, such as mammography, Pap smears, digital rectal exams, and fecal occult blood tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to evaluate symptoms and your risks of developing cancer, and promptly order diagnostic testing. These measures may increase the chances of detecting cancer in its earliest, most curable stage.
The goal of treatment of cancer is to permanently cure the cancer or to bring about a complete remission of the disease. Remission means that there is no longer any sign of the disease in the body, although it may recur or relapse later.
Cancer treatment plans use a multifaceted approach that is individualized to the type of cancer and stage of advancement; your age, medical history, and coexisting diseases or conditions; and other factors.
Treatment for cancer is often best planned and delivered by a team of specialists in cancer care. These specialists generally include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, and registered nurses who specialize in cancer care.
Cancer treatment may include some combination of the following:
Dietary counseling to help people with cancer maintain their strength and nutritional status
Palliative care to improve the overall quality of life for families and patients with serious diseases
Participation in a clinical trial to test promising new therapies and treatments for cancer
Physical therapy to help strengthen the body, increase alertness, reduce fatigue, and improve functional ability during and after cancer treatment
Regular follow-up care to monitor your treatment and progress and to address any problems or complications promptly
Surgery to remove a cancerous tumor or to treat complications of cancer, such as an intestinal obstruction
Some complementary treatments may help some people to better deal with cancer and its treatments. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for full medical care.
Complementary treatments may include:
In cases in which cancer has progressed to an advanced stage and has become unresponsive to treatment, the goal of treatment shifts away from curing the disease and focuses on treating the person. The goal of hospice care is to help people in their last phases of an incurable disease to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice care involves medically controlling pain and other symptoms while providing psychological and spiritual support as well as services to support the patient’s family.
What are the potential complications of cancer?
Complications of cancer are serious and life threatening. They include:
Complications from treatment, such as serious infections and suppression of the immune system
Metastasis (spread) of a primary cancer to another tissue or organ in the body
Recurrence of cancer after treatment
You can best treat cancer and lower your risk of complications by following the treatment plan that you and your health care team design specifically for you.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a general term for a group of diseases that occur when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or more organs or tissues of the body. Cancer is a serious disease and is one of the leading causes of death globally, according to the World Health Organization (Source: WHO).... Read more about cancer introduction
What are the symptoms of cancer?
Symptoms of cancer vary depending on the specific type of cancer, its location, its stage of advancement, and other factors. For many cancers, there are no early symptoms. In some cases, symptoms do not appear until cancer has grown to an advanced stage and spread (metastasized) to other organs and tissues.... Read more about cancer symptoms
What causes cancer?
Cancer occurs when a genetic mutation causes old or damaged cells to continue to divide and multiply uncontrollably. The underlying cause of this varies depending on the specific type of cancer. In many cases, the underlying cause of cancer is not known.... Read more about cancer causes