The Five Most Common Cancer Treatments and What You Should Know
Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy are the most effective and common cancer treatment options. Cancer treatment centers may also enlist the use of other cancer cures such as hyperthermia, stem cell transplant, photodynamic therapy, blood transfusion and laser treatment.
Surgery that treats cancer can come in the following forms:
- Preventive – The removal of tissue that is likely to become cancerous.
- Diagnostic – Also known as a biopsy/ tissue taken to determine if cancer is present.
- Staging – Procedure to determine how far cancer has spread.
- Curative – Removal of cancerous tissue.
- Debulking – Removal of some cancerous tissue.
- Pallative – Treatment for issues caused by cancer.
- Supportive – Procedures to enable other types of treatment.
- Restorative – Procedures to improve aesthetics or to improve body function after treatment.
Radiation treatment involves the use of high-powered radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells. This type of therapy can be placed inside of the body or from an extreme beam radiation machine. Common side effects include loss of appetite, fatigue, emotional changes and changes in the skin. Radiation is not painful, but the side effects have the possibility to be.
Chemotherapy stops cancer from spreading, kills cancer cells, relieves symptoms and slows the growth of cancer with powerful medicines. Chemotherapy comes in the form of injections, a pill or liquid form. It can also be applied topically (into the skin). Common side effects include:
- Hair Loss
- Fertility Issues
- Changes in Bone Marrow
- Cognitive Issues
Immunotherapy boosts an individual’s own immune system or supplements the body with synthetic immune system components to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy comes in the form of cancer vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors and other non-specific types of immunotherapy treatments. Side effects of this treatment include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, chills, blood pressures issues and irritation at the injection site.
Targeted therapy drugs are a newer form of cancer treatment that involves the use of drugs that focus on the inner workings of a cancer cell. It is often used with other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Examples of targeted therapy drugs include signal transduction inhibitors, angiogenesis inhibitors and apoptosis-inducing drugs. Side effects from taking these types of cancer drugs are often less severe than chemotherapy, but they can include skin issues, changes in blood pressure, blood clotting and slowed wound healing.