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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Cancer: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Cancers and Tumors


Alternate Names : Carcinoma, Tumor, Malignancy

Cancer | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Curing or controlling cancer may require that you use many forms of treatment. Some of these are listed below.

Surgery. The first treatment for many cancers is surgery to remove the solid tumor. If the tumor is small enough, the cancer can often be cured this way. This is a local treatment, and it is not effective for cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. Leukemia and lymphoma are not localized because they affect the blood system. So they also cannot be treated by surgery.

Chemotherapy.This is a type of treatment that involves the use of medicines. Your doctor gives these medicines to you either by mouth or directly into a vein. Next, they travel through your body via your blood. This is called a systemic treatment because the medicines may affect your whole body. This approach has been used to cure or control cancers such as leukemia that are more widespread than local. Or it may be used for cancers that were local, but have now spread to other parts of your body. Just as some infections do not respond to antibiotics, not all cancers respond to chemotherapy.

Radiation.In this local treatment, focused energy waves of radiation are directed at tumors. This can kill or slow the growth of many cancers. Cancers that are localized and sensitive to radiation may even be cured by this treatment. Examples of cancers that can be cured by radiation are Hodgkin disease and cancer of the voice box, or larynx.

Immunotherapy.This form of treatment uses the body's immune response to kill or control the cancer. It has only limited effectiveness. It is useful only for certain cancers. Many cancers are too advanced at diagnosis to be affected by this approach alone.

In many cases, a combination of treatments has proven most effective.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

The side effects depend on the type of treatment and the extent of treatment.

  • Extensive surgery or intensive chemotherapy may require a long recovery period. Current management of side effects make it possible for many people to maintain normal activities throughout the treatment period.
  • Localized therapy may have minimal side effects.
  • In advanced cancer, treatment is aimed at improving quality of life and decreasing symptoms of the cancer.
  • What happens after treatment for the disease?

    After treatment, the person with cancer will be watched closely to determine the effectiveness of treatment. People who are cured of their cancers should be able to resume normal lives. If the treatment is not effective, other therapy may be tried. If all therapy has proved ineffective, every effort will be made to assure comfort during the final stages.

    How is the disease monitored?

    Each cancer is followed according to type and how it was diagnosed. Leukemia is followed by examining blood samples. Lung cancer is followed with special X-rays of the chest. Progression of an advancing cancer may be monitored through X-rays, depending where the cancer has spread or is suspected to have spread. Always report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

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    Cancer: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Miriam P. Rogers, EdD, RN, AOCN, CNS
    Reviewer: Fern Carness, RN, MPH
    Date Reviewed: 05/07/01

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