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Cancer Therapy

Couches Chairs Rugs LobbyCancer therapy refers to a variety of treatments – used alone or in conjunction with each other – to eliminate cancer cells and return patients to health. The type of cancer therapy that is identified as being the most successful for a particular patient is decided by the oncologist and cancer team working with that patient and will depend on everything from the type and stage of cancer to the patient’s general health.

The first part of cancer treatment is the primary treatment – the surgery or initial treatment used to remove a tumor or address the cancer site. But typically, treatment does not end here. Most doctors will recommend what is known as adjuvant cancer therapy – the follow-up treatments that help to ensure that all the cancer in the body has been taken care of so that there is a reduced risk of the cancer returning. The choice to recommend adjuvant cancer therapy usually depends on the stage of cancer, aggressiveness of the cancer, and the risk associated with it returning. When doctors reference adjuvant cancer therapy, they refer to it as either local or systemic therapy.

Local adjuvant cancer therapy is administered to the precise location of the cancer itself – the location where the tumor was removed in an initial surgery. This is typically done through targeted radiation that allows oncologists to pinpoint the area where the cancer was found so that they can ensure that all cancer cells in this area are eliminated.

Systemic cancer therapy usually includes chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapy, or a combination of several of these wherein treatment is delivered to the whole body. While this can mean that healthy cells are damaged during the treatment process (which can result in some side effects), there is benefit to systemic therapy as it can catch cancer cells that were missed during the primary treatment. Systemic cancer therapy is like a whole body insurance policy that can give you peace of mind that – even if they’re hiding – cancer cells will be found by high doses of effective medication.

Adjuvant cancer therapy typically begins three to six weeks following primary treatment and your doctor will work with you to determine what is best for your particular case.

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