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Treatment for Cancer

How is cancer treated?

The group of healthcare professionals who work together to find, treat, and care for people with cancer is called the "cancer care team." The cancer care team may include any or all of the following healthcare providers, in addition to others:

Specific treatment for cancer will be determined by your child's physician based on:

Treatment for certain types of cancer may include:

In addition, physicians are using the body's own processes to fight disease. In the near future, there may be a development that can make our bodies recognize cancer cells and destroy them or simply filter them out like common viruses.

The two most common forms of treatment for cancer include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. Chemotherapy has been used for many years and is one of the most common treatments for cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Different groups of drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used alone for some types of cancer or in combination with other treatments such as radiation or surgery. Often, a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used to fight a specific cancer. Certain chemotherapy drugs may be given in a specific order depending on the type of cancer it is being used to treat.

While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, chemotherapy drugs reach all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. Because of this, there may be many side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help you and your caregivers prepare, and, in some cases prevent these symptoms from occurring.

How does chemotherapy work?

In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Different groups of drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells. Often a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used to fight a specific cancer.

How is chemotherapy administered?

Chemotherapy can be given:

What are the side effects of chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy interferes with fast-growing cancer cells, but it also affects some healthy cells. Before receiving chemotherapy for treatment of cancer, many tests are performed to evaluate the baseline (pre-treatment) function of heart, kidneys, lungs, eyes, ears, and reproductive organs. Some chemotherapy may affect the function of these organs either during treatment or months to years after treatment. Some treatment may affect fertility. Other potential side effects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy (also called therapeutic radiology or radiation oncology) uses special kinds of energy waves or particles to fight cancer. Like surgery, radiation therapy is used in several ways depending on the type and location of the cancer. Certain levels of radiation work to destroy cancer cells or prevent cells from growing or reproducing. This treatment may provide a cure for cancer, control the disease, or help relieve its symptoms.

Although each hospital may have specific protocols, radiation therapy usually begins with these procedures:

What are the different types of radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is given through different methods, depending on the type of cancer, the location of the cancer, and the patient's health. Sometimes, radiation therapy is used in combination with other treatments. The following are some of the different types of radiation therapy with brief explanations of their goals:

How is radiation therapy given?

Radiation therapy can be given either externally (outside the body), or internally (inside the body):

What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

The side effects of radiation depend on the dose and location, and if it is internal or external. Before receiving radiation for treatment of cancer, many tests may be performed to evaluate the baseline (pre-treatment) function of heart, kidneys, lungs, eyes, ears and reproductive organs. Some radiation may affect the function of these organs either during treatment or months to years after treatment. Some treatment may affect fertility. The side effects usually relate to the area of the body that is receiving the radiation treatments. Potential side effects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

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