The specific treatment of a cancer depends on the type of cancer, its location in the body and how far throughout the body it has spread. There are three main cancer treatments that can help stop or slow the spread of cancer.
In chemotherapy, a combination of drugs is used in order to combat the cancer. The drugs used depend on the type of cancer that the patient has. They are sometimes used to shrink tumors so that a doctor can surgically remove them.
The drugs in chemotherapy are usually given orally, but they may also be injected. After each chemotherapy session, patients are left to rest for around one week to a month. The drugs can cause some side effects, including hair loss, sickness and mouth sores. Chemotherapy usually lasts a maximum of six sessions.
Radiotherapy, another of the three major cancer treatments, attempts to kill the cancer cells with radiation. The radiation is administered by controlled x-rays to the cancer-affected area. The x-rays are administered in a specific way in order not to cause damage to the surrounding tissue. Like all cancer treatments, radiotherapy can cause some side effects, such as depression, lethargy and a lack of appetite. Some women who have radiotherapy in the pelvic region have been known to start menopause early.
The last of the major cancer treatments is invasive surgery. If cancer is still in the early stages and has not spread, then surgery is sometimes the best treatment. Surgery is also used if the cancer appears as solid tumors. Some of the surrounding tissue, including some lymph nodes, may also be removed during surgery in order to prevent the cancer from returning.
In addition to the three major cancer treatments, a combination of cancer treatments may be advised by an oncologist, a doctor who is trained specifically to diagnose and treat cancer. A combination of the cancer treatments discussed above is known as a multi-modality procedure.
If the disease has spread too far for any treatment to be effective, then palliative care will be given to improve the quality of life for the sufferer. Palliative care aims to relieve pain during the remaining lifetime of the sufferer. Cancer treatments are under constant research, and vast amounts of funds and manpower are used to find new cancer treatments every year.