Treatment Option Overview
Surgery is usually done to remove cancer that is left after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. When possible, the entire tumor is removed by surgery. Tissue and bone that are removed may be replaced with a graft using tissue and bone taken from another part of the patient's body or a donor, or with an implant such as artificial bone.
Radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery so less tissue needs to be removed. It may also be used to kill tumor cells that are left after surgery or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type of the cancer being treated and whether it is found at the place it first formed only or whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
Stem cell transplant is a way of replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by chemotherapy. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.
Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.
Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.
Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.