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Common Treatments for Cancer

* The following is not a complete list of treatments for cancer. For more information, please visit each specific cancer type in our Cancer Encyclopedia.

Treatment varies based on the type of cancer and its stage. The stage of a cancer refers to how much it has grown and whether the tumor has spread from its original location.

  • If the cancer is confined to one location and has not spread, the most common treatment approach is surgery to cure the cancer. This is often the case with skin cancers, as well as cancers of the lung, breast, and colon.
  • If the tumor has spread to local lymph nodes only, sometimes these can be removed.
  • If surgery cannot remove all of the cancer, the options for treatment include radiation, chemotherapy, or both. Some cancers require a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
  • Lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph glands, is rarely treated with surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are most often used to treat lymphoma.

Although treatment for cancer can be difficult, there are many ways to keep up your strength.

If you have radiation treatment, know that:

  • Radiation treatment is painless.
  • Treatment is usually scheduled every weekday.
  • You should allow 30 minutes for each treatment session, although the treatment itself usually takes only a few minutes.
  • You should get plenty of rest and eat a well-balanced diet during the course of your radiation therapy.
  • Skin in the treated area may become sensitive and easily irritated.
  • Side effects of radiation treatment are usually temporary. They vary depending on the area of the body that is being treated.

If you are going through chemotherapy, you should eat right. Chemotherapy causes your immune system to weaken, so you should avoid people with colds or the flu. You should also get plenty of rest, and don't feel as though you have to accomplish tasks all at once.

It will help you to talk with family, friends, or a support group about your feelings. Work with your health care providers throughout your treatment. Helping yourself can make you feel more in control.

 

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