Complementary & integrative medicine are treatments and therapies that help cancer patients cope with side effects or symptoms that result from standard cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. These are not “alternative” cancer treatments, but are integrated into the overall plan for cancer care and compliment those treatments.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to slow or stop the growth of cancerous cells. Treatment schedules for chemo vary according to the stage and type of cancer, the goals of treatment and how a patient’s body reacts to the drugs.
Radiation therapy uses high intensity radiation, such as x-rays, to control or kill cancerous cells. Radiation may be performed by a machine outside the body or by radioactive material placed within the body.
Surgery may be performed to diagnose, to remove cancerous cells and tumors, or to prevent cancer in the future. Oncologists use different types of surgery depending on the type and location of the cancer and the goal of the surgery.
In hormone therapy, medications add, block or remove hormones to slow or halt the growth of cancer cells. In certain cases, the gland responsible for producing the hormones may be surgically removed.
Targeted therapy cancer treatment is a form of chemotherapy that focuses on, or targets, one specific property or molecule of a cell. This may include a particular protein, a set of proteins or the way the healthy cells attack the cancer cells.
In stem cell transplantation, specialized cells that can develop into healthy bone marrow are used to replace cancerous bone marrow. Stem cell transplants often work in conjunction with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.