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Cancer Health Center

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Cancer Treatment: What Are the Options?

If you’ve recently learned you have cancer, you probably have a lot on your mind. Your doctor may have recommended a treatment plan, and you might worry about what’s involved and how it will make you feel.

It’s normal to be nervous or afraid. One way to ease some of your worries is to learn as much as you can about the treatment and what to expect afterward. It can also give you a sense of control over your disease.

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You and your doctor will decide what treatment is best for you based on the type of cancer you have, where it is in your body, and how far it has spread, called the stage of your disease. But in general, there are a few types of treatment that work for many different kinds of cancer.

Here’s a look at some of the options you might have.


Most people with cancer will have some type of surgery. The main goal is to remove tumors, tissue, or areas with cancer cells, such as lymph nodes. Doctors also may do it to diagnose the disease or find out how serious it is.

In many cases, surgery offers the best chance of getting rid of the disease, especially if it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body.

Along with a traditional operation, doctors can also fight some types of cancer with:

  • Laser surgery (beams of light)
  • Electrosurgery (electric currents)
  • Cryosurgery (very cold temperatures to freeze cancer cells)

You'll get medication to block pain during and after your surgery. You might also get other meds, such as antibiotics to lower the risk of infection.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. There are two ways to get it:

“Traditional” Chemotherapy

You get most chemo medications through an injection into a vein.

But you can get some types as a shot in your muscle, under your skin, or as an ointment or cream to put on your skin.

The side effects vary from person to person, even if you have the same type of cancer and get the same treatment as someone else. Some of the most common issues are:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Pain

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