How is cancer treated?

The exact treatment for cancer depends on the type of cancer and where it is. One treatment is surgery. Surgery can be used to cut out cancer. Depending on how big the cancer is, where it is and whether it has spread, doctors might be able to remove it. But not all cancers can be removed.

Chemotherapy, or chemo for short, uses medicines to destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy is another treatment. It uses powerful energy beams to kill the cancer cells. Immunotherapy helps the immune system fight the cancer cells. Sometimes a combination of treatments is used. The medicines can also damage healthy cells, causing side effects like hair loss, nausea and changes to the blood.

A stem cell—or bone marrow—transplant might be needed for some people with cancer. A bone marrow transplant is when the body is restocked with good cells to replace destroyed cancer cells. This boost of healthy cells means that people can get higher doses of chemotherapy that can increase the chance of destroying more cancer cells.

There are a number of methods used to treat cancer. The aim of cancer treatments is to remove the cancerous cells while making sure the cancer does not come back. This can be challenging because even if only one cancerous cell remains after treatment, it has the potential to cause a new tumor. The main techniques used to treat cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy.

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the three main types of cancer treatment. A person with cancer may have any or all of these treatments.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.