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About Cancer Treatment

Treatment Protocols for Cancer: Overview

The conventional, primary methods of treating cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy/biological therapy. Your doctor will determine which treatment or treatments are best for you.

Preparing a Patient For Cancer Treatment

The first step in preparing for your cancer treatment is to find an oncologist and treatment center. Ask your general or primary care physician for a referral or contact government and professional medical organizations, such as your state's health department, the National Cancer Institute, or the American Medical Association, for information on cancer specialists and treatment centers in your area.

Symptom Record Log

Use this chart daily to record the symptoms that you are experiencing. Rate the symptoms according to severity, using a scale of 1 to 4.

Seniors: Getting the Best Cancer Care

Older adults are less likely to be screened for cancer in the first place. And if they are diagnosed with cancer, it's less likely that their doctors will recommend treatment to cure the cancer.

Cancer Treatment Team

Your cancer treatment may involve several types of health care professionals who, with you, form the "cancer care team."

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy's Effects on Organs/Body Systems

Because anticancer drugs are made to kill growing cells, they also affect normal, fast-growing cells such as blood cells forming in the bone marrow and cells in the digestive tract, reproductive system, and hair follicles. Some anticancer drugs may affect cells of vital organs, such as the heart, kidney, bladder, lungs, and nervous system.

Cancer Caused by Chemotherapy or Radiation

the likelihood of chemotherapy or radiation treatment causing a second cancer is rare. Nevertheless, cancer can occur in some instances, so it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved before undergoing these cancer treatments.

Radiation Therapy

Radiology Team

The radiology team is led by one or more radiologists. Radiologists are responsible for interpreting the results of exams, performing certain procedures, conferring and consulting with other physicians in other specialties, and ensuring the overall quality performance of the entire team.

Radiologist

Radiology has become highly specialized, as have most other medical and surgical specialties. The current trend is for radiologists to become specialized in a particular discipline, such as cardiology (the study and treatment of the heart) or neurology (the study and treatment of the brain and nervous system).

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is a specialized area of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive materials to examine organ function and structure. This branch of radiology is often used to help diagnose and treat abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease, such as thyroid cancer.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET is a type of nuclear medicine procedure that measures metabolic activity of the cells of body tissues. Used mostly in patients with brain or heart conditions and cancer, PET helps to visualize the biochemical changes taking place in the body.

External Beam Therapy

External beam therapy is a type of therapeutic radiology that is delivered externally from a machine directed to the cancer inside the patient. Examples of external beam therapy machines include linear accelerators, cobalt machines, or orthovoltage X-ray machines.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is radiation treatment that is given inside the patient, as close to the cancer as possible. The radiation is delivered to the body site with radioactive isotopes inside wires, seeds, or rods. These devices are called implants.

Radiosurgery

Radiosurgery uses focused beams of radiation to treat cancerous tissues without a surgical incision or opening. The treatment is called "surgery" because creates a result similar to an actual surgical procedure.

Advances in Therapeutic Radiology

One newer therapy combines radiation and chemotherapy, because in some cases, radiation may improve the effects of chemotherapy, and vice versa. Another therapy uses external beam radiation during surgery to treat cancerous tumors or certain other forms of cancer.

Cancer Caused by Chemotherapy or Radiation

the likelihood of chemotherapy or radiation treatment causing a second cancer is rare. Nevertheless, cancer can occur in some instances, so it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved before undergoing these cancer treatments.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone Therapy For Cancer Treatment

With some cancers, patients are given hormone therapy as soon as cancer is diagnosed, before any other treatment. It may shrink a tumor, or it may halt the advance of the disease. In some cancers, such as prostate cancer, hormone therapy helps ease the painful and distressing symptoms of advanced disease.

Surgery

Surgery For Cancer Treatment

One type of surgery for cancer is curative. This procedure removes the cancerous tumor or growth from the body. Surgeons use curative surgery when the cancerous tumor is in one specific area of the body. This type of treatment is often considered the primary treatment, but other types of cancer treatments, such as radiation, may be used before or after the surgery.

Questions to Ask Before Surgery

It's important to communicate your feelings, questions, and concerns with your doctor before having surgery. Take notes, or ask a family member or friend to accompany you and take notes for you. You can also bring a tape recorder, so you can review information later.

Purpose of Having Surgery

Surgery may be recommended for a variety of reasons—among them, to help with a diagnosis, to take a biopsy of a suspicious lump, to remove diseased tissues or organs, or to remove an obstruction.

Preparing for Surgery

How should you prepare for surgery? That depends on the type of surgery and type of anesthesia that will be used.

Surgical Team

The surgical team is made up of a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, and an operating room nurse.

Tests Performed Before Surgery

Many surgeons order routine laboratory tests before admission to the hospital, or even before certain outpatient procedures, to identify potential problems that might complicate surgery if not detected and treated early.

Types of Anesthesia and Your Anesthesiologist

During surgery, you will be given some form of anesthesia—medication administered for the relief of pain and sensation during surgery. The type and dosage of anesthesia is determined by the anesthesiologist.

Checklist for Surgery/Consent Forms/Insurance Information

The decision to have surgery is an important one. Here is a checklist to help you prepare. You'll need to arrange a time for any preoperative lab tests and for an interview with the anesthesiologist. Check with your health plan regarding costs and coverage of the surgery.

Pain Management

It's normal to expect a certain amount of pain after surgery, but if the pain does not subside with pain medication, you may have a more serious problem. Your doctors and nurses will ask about your pain because they want you to be comfortable.

Specialized Types of Cancer Surgery

Your medical team may recommend one of several different types of surgery as part of your cancer treatment. These types include cryosurgery, laser surgery, microsurgery, and electrosurgery.

Other Cancer Treatments

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Detailed information on bone marrow transplant, including preparation, types of transplant, transplant team, and possible procedure-related complications or side effects

Angiogenesis Inhibitors

Sometimes called antiangiogenic therapy, this treatment may prevent the growth of cancer by blocking the formation of new blood vessels.

Hyperthermia For Cancer Treatment

Heat therapy may help shrink tumors by damaging cells or depriving them of the substances they need to live. Research studies are underway to determine the use and effectiveness of hyperthermia in cancer treatment.

Laser Therapy For Cancer Treatment

Laser therapy can be used to cut a very tiny area to remove very small cancers without damaging surrounding tissue. Lasers also are used to apply heat to tumors in order to shrink them and are sometimes used with drugs that are activated by laser light to kill cancer cells.

Clinical Trials

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary medicine is used in conjunction with other therapies. It usually serves to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Alternative medicine is used alone, without standard treatment.

Biofeedback for Cancer

Biofeedback is a technique used to train your mind to control the way your body works. It does not appear to affect cancer cells, but it has helped patients reduce severity and occurrence of headaches and chronic pain.

Dietary and Herbal Supplements for Cancer

No dietary changes have been found to cure cancer, but good nutrition is an essential part of your treatment plan. Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian before trying any dietary supplements.

Yoga as Alternative Therapy for Cancer

Yoga means "union"—a union of the mind, body, and spirit—and uses slow movement, precise posture, meditation, and breathing exercises to reach a state of relaxation.

Physical Exercise for Cancer

Exercise is an effective activity for many people with cancer. Scientists are still learning about how physical activity helps cancer patients and what impact it has on the immune system.
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