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What is Cancer Therapy?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 April 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Cancer therapy is a treatment program which is designed to help a patient with cancer. There are a number of approaches to cancer therapy, ranging from aggressive treatments which are designed to eliminate the cancer to treatment plans which focus on palliative care for patients with cancers which are incurable. A cancer therapy plan is typically developed by an oncologist who works with a patient and a care team which can include surgeons, radiologists, psychologists, and numerous other care providers.

As soon as a patient is diagnosed with cancer, tests will be ordered to determine the type of cancer and its extent. The goal of these tests is to create a complete picture of the cancer which can be used in the development of a treatment plan. Armed with this information, an oncologist and patient can talk together about the cancer, possible treatments, and the prognosis. Patients may find that they need to meet with several oncologists before they meet one who is a good fit.

A well designed cancer therapy plan does not just deal with the physical reality of the cancer, although this is obviously important. It also includes psychological treatment for the emotional distress which can accompany a cancer diagnosis, along with supportive care to help patients manage the side effects of cancer treatments. Cancer therapy can include the use of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation to attack the cancer, along with alternative medicine to manage stress, psychiatric therapy to help with fear, and group therapy to allow a patient to adjust to his or her diagnosis in a supportive environment with other patients.

Treating cancer can be a prolonged battle which can generate considerable strain. While cancer therapy is designed to treat cancer, it also needs to take other factors into account, such as the stress which cancer can put on a marriage, the loneliness experienced by some cancer patients, the financial difficulties associated with a major medical diagnosis, and issues such as harrowing side effects associated with many cancer drugs. Cancer therapy can also include experimental treatments and approaches to cancer, such as enrollment in drug trials which might improve the patient's prognosis.

When establishing a cancer therapy program, patients should think about issues like the prognosis for the cancer, the success of various treatment options, personal beliefs, and contingency plans. A good oncologist will present a patient with balanced, useful information which will help the patient reach a sound decision about treatment or management of the cancer, and the doctor may also provide referrals to cancer resource centers and other community and hospital resources which could help the patient.

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