Cancer : Treatment

Treatment

Treatment also 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 goals for treatment are surgery and cure. 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 also 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.

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.

Support Groups

A cancer diagnosis often causes a lot of anxiety and can affect your entire quality of life. Several support groups for cancer patients can help you cope.

Prognosis (Expectations)

The outlook depends on the type of cancer. Even among people with one type of cancer, the outcome varies depending on the stage of the tumor when they are diagnosed.

Some cancers can be cured. Some cancers that are not curable can still be treated well. And some patients can live for many years with their cancer. Other tumors are quickly life-threatening.

Complications

One complication is that the cancer may spread. Other complications vary with the type and stage of the tumor.

Calling Your Health Care Provider

Contact your health care provider if you develop symptoms of cancer.


Review Date : 8/2/2008
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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