Treatment Protocols for Cancer: Overview

How is cancer treated?

Specific treatment for cancer will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your overall health and your health history

  • Extent of the disease--type, grade, stage, and location

  • Your ability to handle certain medicines, procedures, or therapies

  • Outlook for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

What are the goals of treatment?

  • Cure the cancer (remission) 

  • Prevent the return of the cancer (recurrence)

  • Prolong life (when remission or cure is not possible) 

  • Ease the symptoms. This is called palliation. Palliation is treatment for a symptom of the cancer, such as pain. It is not a treatment for the cancer itself. The goal of palliation is to improve the quality of life, and provide comfort and support.

What are the common types of cancer treatment?

The usual methods for treating cancer are:

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Hormone therapy

  • Immunotherapy or biological therapy

Cancer may also be treated with:

  • High-dose therapy with stem cell rescue. High doses of chemotherapy may be used with or without radiation therapy to treat the cancer. The dose of treatment is so high that the body's bone marrow cannot recover. The stem cell rescue is a way to replace the body's bone marrow to provide a functioning blood and immune system.