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Cancer Treatment Options

Depending on the particular situation, cancer therapy in Texas can involve several different modalities which work together to fight cancer and improve the quality of life:

1. Cancer Surgery – is an operation to repair or remove part of your body to diagnose or treat cancer – it still remains the foundation of cancer treatment. Cancer surgery may be used to achieve any number of goals, from diagnosing your cancer to treating your cancer or to relieve the symptoms it causes. Cancer surgery may be the only treatment needed, or it may be combined with other treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.Cancer surgery may be used to achieve one or more goals. Common reasons you might need cancer surgery include:

  • Cancer prevention
  • Diagnosis
  • Staging
  • Primary treatment
  • Debulking
  • Relieving symptoms or side effects

Surgery is often combined with other cancer treatment options, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Whether you have additional cancer treatments depends on your cancer and its stage.

2. Chemotherapy – uses medications to treat cancer. Chemotherapy is an effective cancer treatment. It may be your only treatment, or it may be used in combination with other treatments performed by a cancer center.

Chemotherapy works by killing cancer cells and healthy cells, which continuously divide and form more cells, such as those in your bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive system and hair follicles. Healthy cells usually recover quickly after chemotherapy is complete, so for example, your hair will start growing again.
An advantage of chemotherapy is that it treats the entire body. As a result, any cells that may have escaped from the original cancer are treated.

Depending on the type of cancer and whether it has spread, chemotherapy may be used to:

. Eliminate all cancer cells in your body
. Control cancer growth and spread
. Relieve symptoms

3. Radiation Therapy – also called X-ray therapy or radiotherapy – treats cancer with particle beams such as gamma rays or X-rays. Cancer cells are damaged by destroying the genetic material that controls how cells grow and divide. Although both healthy and cancerous cells are damaged by this therapy, the overall goal is to destroy as few healthy cells as possible.

Many people with cancer receive radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. Radiation therapy is used to treat just about every type of cancer. There are several types of radiation therapy:

. External beam radiation – Uses radiation that comes from a machine outside your body. It is the most common type of radiation therapy.
. Internal radiation (brachytherapy)- Radiation comes from small, radioactive pellets placed within your body.
. Intraoperative radiation- Radiation used during surgery
. Systemic radiation- A radioactive substance is injected into a vein which delivers radiation as it travels through the body.

4. Hormone Therapy (pills or injections) – also known as endocrine therapy modifies the hormones in your body to help control or cure cancer. This type of cancer therapy can reduce the level of specific hormones in your body or alter the cancer’s ability to use hormones to grow and spread.

Different types of tumors such as tumors of the breast and the prostate rely on hormones such as estrogen and testosterone to survive and grow. Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that attacks these hormone-dependent tumors by reducing the hormones in your body and changing the cancer’s ability to use the hormones in your body to grow.

5. Symptom/pain management – Be sure to always report any annoying pain. If there is a minor pain that dissapates, don’t worry about it. But if the pain interferes with your life or is constant, you need to report it and it may need to be treated. Although there are no guarantees that all pain can be completely eliminated, most pain can be controlled to make you comfortable.

6. Nutrition – Proper nutrition is important for everyone, not just patients receiving treatment for cancer. But cancer and its treatment can make nutrition more difficult in several ways:

  1. Patients may present after significant weight loss has already occurred
  2. Nausea or decreased appetite may be present
  3. Some patients may have difficulty swallowing because of cancer or radiation therapy
  4. Patients who have had pancreas surgery may not absorb food properly

Numerous medications are available to treat nausea, and there are a few that can be used to stimulate appetite. Appetite stimulants may have possible side-effects that discourage their use, so talk with your doctor if you feel they could be helpful. In some situations, an alternate route of nutrition (gastric tube or IV nutrition) may be considered.

7. Spiritual Support

8. Complementary and Integrative Medicine – CAM (Complementary and Integrative Medicine) is a broad term which implies the use of therapies that may not be a part of “standard” medical practice. The acceptance of these treatments depends on the background, training, and personal biases of both the patient and caregiver. Several recent questionnaire studies have shown that more than 50% of cancer patients have participated in such therapy, so CAM is a reality that physicians should be willing to discuss with their patients.

It is important to realize that many people feel a loss of control after receiving a diagnosis of cancer. They should have a healthy patient/physician relationship where they feel empowered to ask questions and make decisions. CAM should not be a surrogate way to feel “in control” in the setting of an unhealthy patient/physician relationship.

Your personal care cancer treatment clinic physician can help you determine which cancer treatment options will be most appropriate. Recent advances in chemotherapy and radiation therapy are allowing physicians to use treatments that are more effective yet produce fewer side-effects. In many situations, there may be a choice of treatments that differ with regards to efficacy (effect against the cancer) and risk of toxicity. Your physician may also discuss the option of research trials which seek to improve upon standard therapy.

Numerous medications are also available to control the symptoms of cancer or its treatment, support the immune system, and treat anemia. Communication in important, so let your physician know if you have symptoms or concerns that need to be addressed.

With so many families touched by cancer, Las Colinas Cancer Center (cancer treatment clinic & therapy center) is a place where your needs are fully met with compassion. Las Colinas Cancer Center is dedicated to healing, prevention and education of cancer in a warm and friendly environment.

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