There are many different types of treatments for cancer. The choice of treatment depends on the cancer type as well as the stage of cancer.
|Type of treatment||How it works||How is it given|
|Chemotherapy||Targets cells at the different phases of growth into new cells. Because cancer cells form new cells quicker than normal cells, they are good targets for chemotherapy.||Usually intravenously (via a drip) or via a port (device implanted under the skin into veins to deliver chemotherapy). Occasionally oral chemotherapy (tablets) can be used.|
|Targeted therapy||Targets specific mutation/ abnormality identified in the cancer which causes cancer growth.||Usually oral tablets, occasionally intravenously.|
|Immunotherapy||Activates the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.||Usually intravenously, subcutaneous (under the skin) formulations are being developed.|
Oncologists can give chemotherapy either as a single drug or in combinations with other chemotherapies; in combination with immunotherapy or with other modalities of treatment, such as radiation. Not all treatments work for every cancer, so this needs to be discussed with the oncologist.
Choice of treatment also depends on the cancer types and is used in different settings to achieve different goals. For example:
- Neo-adjuvant treatment – given before surgery or before radiation therapy to shrink a tumour and make it small enough to operate or radiate.
- Adjuvant treatment – given after surgery or radiation to help kill remaining cancer cells or to prevent cancer from recurring.
- Palliative treatment – given in very advanced stage cancers or incurable cancers to control symptoms and delay growth and spread.
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