font size

Cancer (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is the treatment for cancer?

A doctor who specialized in the treatment of cancer is called an oncologist. He or she may be a surgeon, a specialist in radiation therapy, or a medical oncologist. The first uses surgery to treat the cancer; the second, radiation therapy; the third, chemotherapy and related treatments. Each may consult with the others to develop a treatment plan for the particular patient.

The treatment is based on the type of cancer and the stage of the cancer. In some people, diagnosis and treatment may occur at the same time if the cancer is entirely surgically removed when the surgeon removes the tissue for biopsy.

Although patients may receive a unique sequenced treatment, or protocol, for their cancer, most treatments have one or more of the following components: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or combination treatments (a combination of two or all three treatments).

Individuals obtain variations of these treatments for cancer. Patients with cancers that cannot be cured (completely removed) by surgery usually will get combination therapy, the composition determined by the cancer type and stage.

Palliative therapy (medical care or treatment used to reduce disease symptoms but unable to cure the patient) utilizes the same treatments described above. It is done with the intent to extend and improve the quality of life of the terminally ill cancer patient. There are many other palliative treatments to reduce symptoms such as pain medications and antinausea medications.

What is the prognosis for cancer?

The prognosis (outcome) for cancer patients may range from excellent to poor. The prognosis is directly related to both the type and stage of the cancer. For example, many skin cancers can be completely cured by removing the skin cancer tissue; similarly, even a patient with a large tumor may be cured after surgery and other treatments like chemotherapy (note that a cure is often defined by many clinicians as a five-year period with no reoccurrence of the cancer). However, as the cancer type either is or becomes aggressive, with spread to lymph nodes or is metastatic to other organs, the prognosis decreases. For example, cancers that have higher numbers in their staging (for example, stage III or T3N2M1; see staging section above) have a worse prognosis than those with low (or 0) numbers. As the staging numbers increase, the prognosis worsens.

There are many complications that may occur with cancer; many are specific to the cancer type and stage and are too numerous to list here. However, some general complications that may occur with both cancer and its treatment protocols are listed below:

  • Fatigue (both due to cancer and its treatments)
  • Anemia (both)
  • Loss of appetite (both)
  • Insomnia (both)
  • Hair loss (treatments mainly)
  • Nausea (both)
  • Lymphedema (both)
  • Pain (both)
  • Immune system depression (both)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/21/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Cancer - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with cancer.
Cancer - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your cancer?
Cancer - Diagnosis Question: What form of cancer do you have? How was it diagnosed? Please share your story.
Cancer - Prevention Question: With a goal of preventing cancer, describe the exams and tests you've had, like mammograms.
Cancer - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your cancer?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/cancer/article.htm

Cancer

Get the latest treatment options.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations

NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD