Methods for Cancer Treatment

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Chemotherapy (Chemo): This strong medication keeps cancer from spreading, makes it grow slower, or even kills cancer cells. It can cause side effects because it kills cells in your body that grow quickly, including those in your blood, mouth, digestive system, and hair follicles.

There are over 100 types of chemo drugs. Your doctor will choose the one that’s best for your type of cancer. You may take it as a pill or capsule, rub it into your skin as a cream, or get it as an injection or IV at home or in the hospital.

External Beam Radiation

This treatment attacks cancer cells with high-energy particles (proton or particle therapy) or waves (X-rays). It kills or damages cells in one specific area instead of throughout your whole body. The most common type comes from a machine outside your body. It’s called external-beam radiation.

Internal Radiation

You’ll probably hear your doctor call it brachytherapy. They’ll put radioactive implants about the size of a grain of rice inside your body where the tumor is. The radiation kills the cancer cells. This treatment makes you radioactive for a while, so you may have to avoid other people until it’s finished.

Open Surgery

Treating cancer with surgery works best if you have a solid tumor in one area. It often can’t treat cancer that has spread or cancer that’s in your blood, like leukemia. The surgeon makes a cut in your skin with a scalpel or other sharp tool and removes as much of the tumor as possible. They may also take out lymph nodes and other tissues for testing. This is called open surgery.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

The goal for this procedure is the same as open surgery: to remove tumors, and also tissues and lymph nodes if needed. Instead of one large cut, the surgeon makes several small ones. They put a tube with a tiny camera into one cut to see inside your body, and tools into the others. This is called laparoscopic surgery. It usually has a shorter recovery time than open surgery.

Other Surgeries

Cryosurgery uses very cold nitrogen or argon gas to freeze off abnormal tissue. It can treat some early skin cancers, retinoblastoma, and precancerous spots on your skin or cervix.

Photodynamic therapy is a laparoscopic surgery that puts drugs near tumors. The light activates the medicine, and it kills cancer cells.

Laser surgery uses strong beams of light to cut into your skin. It’s good for very tiny areas. Lasers can also sometimes shrink tumors.

Stem Cell Transplant: These are cells in your blood and bone marrow that haven’t matured into their final form. The doctor uses them to replace cells in your bone marrow that other treatments kill. That means you can get higher doses of those therapies. Sometimes, stem cells can find and kill cancer cells. You get stem cell transplants through a catheter, much like a blood transfusion 🙂 🙂

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