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Cancer Treatment: Understanding Your Options

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When you receive a cancer diagnosis, you may experience everything from fear and anger to a sense of helplessness. Fortunately, modern medicine offers more ways of overcoming cancer than ever before. Empower yourself by taking a look at some of the most common, popular, and effective cancer treatment options.


Cancer surgery typically involves the removal of the cancerous tumor or tumors that threaten your health. It can also play a role in diagnosis, with the oncologist removing a tissue sample for biopsy. If your surgical team can't remove the whole tumor, they may remove as much as possible before administering other treatment techniques.


Chemotherapy (or chemo) destroys tumors by poisoning them. This method takes advantage of the fact that cancer cells grow and reproduce faster than normal cells. As a result, the chemicals used affect the cancerous tissues more profoundly than the healthy tissues, although they may also cause nausea and temporary hair loss.

Chemotherapy can work as a first-line treatment or as a supplement to other treatments. For instance, if your oncology surgeon couldn't safely remove your tumor directly, a round of chemotherapy may destroy the remaining cancerous tissue, sending you into remission. 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy works more slowly than some other treatments. It damages the DNS in cancer cells, causing them to die off over weeks or months. Oncologists commonly implant a solid radioactive object near the tumor for precise, effective results. However, you can also receive the radiation through a targeted external beam.

Internal radiation therapy sometimes involves fluids instead of solid objects. You can receive fluid-based radiation through an injection, IV line, or even by swallowing a radioactive liquid. The fluid can then travel through your entire body, killing any cancer cells that may have spread from the initial tumor to other tissues.

Targeted Therapy

Just as radiation therapy targets the DNA in cancer cells to arrest their growth, targeted therapy uses techniques that attack specific critical components of a cancer cell. Some of these therapies rely on small molecule medicines, so named because their tiny size enables them to penetrate cell membranes.

Monoclonal antibodies also see regular use in targeted therapy against cancer. In a sense, they represent the opposite of small molecule medicines because their large size prevents them from penetrating cancer cells. Instead, the monoclonal antibodies attack the cells from the outside with payloads of chemo drugs or radiation.

Talk to the medical team at your oncology center to learn more about these cancer treatment options. These experts can discuss the various pros and cons of these options with you and then create a personalized treatment plan for optimal results.