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Learn About Cancer Treatment©
Written by Cancer Center Staff

Source: Cancer Resource Room

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Types of Cancer Treatments
The two goals of cancer treatment are to get rid of cancer cells in the body and to stop more cancer cells from growing. There are three main types of cancer treatment:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

These treatments may be used alone or in combination.

Cancer Surgery
During surgery, a cluster of cancer cells (a tumor) is removed from the body. If removing the whole tumor will damage one of the body’s vital organs, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible. If surgery is done first, other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, may then be used to kill any cancer cells that could be left.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radioactive beams or particles to kill cancer cells. It also keeps the cancer cells from growing and dividing. The radiation can come from beams outside the body (external) or from radioactive implants placed inside the body (internal). One of the newer types of external cancer radiation therapy is called proton beam therapy. To learn more about proton beam cancer therapy >>>

Chemotherapy medicines are used to destroy cancer cells and take away their ability to reproduce. Chemotherapy is known as a “systemic treatment” because the medicines are carried to all parts of the body through the bloodstream. There are many kinds of chemotherapy drugs, and they are usually given by vein (IV). Chemotherapy drugs can be combined or given one after the other to make sure all cancer cells are destroyed.

Individual Treatment Plans
When developing a cancer treatment plan, you and your healthcare team will first need to have an accurate diagnosis. A variety of tests will be needed, and the results will be reviewed by a team of cancer specialists. The following information is what the treatment team needs to know to make an accurate cancer diagnosis and a treatment plan.

  • Where the cancer started (primary site)
  • Where the cancer is located in the body
  • What types of cancer cells are present
  • How the cancer cells are likely to spread
  • How advanced the cancer is
  • Your overall health

Once these questions are answered, a treatment plan is developed. Treatment for cancer may involve one, two or all three of the major approaches. The plan is based on each individual’s needs. The cancer treatment plan includes:

  • The type of cancer treatment to be given.
  • If more than one treatment is planned, the order in which they will be given.
  • The length of the cancer treatment.
  • Where treatment will take place - in the hospital, as an outpatient or at home.

Cancer treatment may involve both inpatient and outpatient care.

What's New
To Search Pub Med, please see below.

Bone Marrow Transplant
Consumer and selected health professional journals

Consumer and selected health professional journals

Clinical Trials
Consumer and selected health professional journals

Hormone, Biological and Immunotherapies
Consumer and selected health professional journals

Proton Beam
Selected health professional journals

Radiation Therapy
Consumer and selected health professional journals

Consumer journals

Support & Education Programs

We know that being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for you and your family. We offer a variety of cancer support services to help patients and families gain the support and information they will need to meet the challenges ahead.

To find the next educational workshop on Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy along with other programs, please go to this month's offerings in the HOPES calendar.

Cancer Services at Massachusetts General Hospital