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Combination cancer therapy is the term given to the treatment of cancer using multiple types of therapy at the same time. The term may refer to a combination of chemotherapy drugs or it may refer to the use of two or more totally different treatments simultaneously, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Whether or not combination cancer therapy is used depends on a variety of factors such as the specific type of cancer and how aggressive it is, the overall health of the patient, and the general philosophy of the doctor and the treatment facility.
The most common type of combination cancer therapy is the use of multiple chemotherapy agents at the same time. Using two or more drugs together is often done used as a way to treat many different cancers, as cancer treatment drugs can have a synergistic effect when combined. This results in a far more effective treatment than can be obtained by using any of the drugs alone. Breast cancer, colon cancer, and bone cancer are just a few examples of the cancers that are routinely treated with combination cancer therapy.
Another common type of combination cancer therapy is to use both chemotherapy and radiation therapy together. These are not necessarily applied at the same time, but may be used in sequence. Chemotherapy is typically used to shrink the tumor, while radiation is applied to kill what is left. These treatments are usually followed with another course of chemotherapy, in order to be sure that all of the cancer cells in the body have been killed.
Less common types of combination cancer therapy may use hormone therapy, holistic or natural treatments, and immunotherapy. Additional treatments may involve acupuncture and stem cell transplants, often in combination with each other or with the more traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In some countries these treatments may be more common than in others.
Although there is not complete agreement among physicians as to which therapies are best, it is generally agreed that some type of combination cancer therapy works best. Many cancer patients opt to add natural medicines, vitamins, or other measures to their traditional treatments in order to help them survive chemotherapy or radiation. The main thing about such measures is that it is important to tell the oncologist or other physician, since even vitamins may cause some level of interference with chemotherapy agents. In most cases, however, anything that supports the immune system can help the patient cope with single or combination cancer therapy.