There are many types of conventional cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you receive will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is.
The main types of cancer treatment include:
Stem Cell Transplant
Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
At high doses, radiation kills cancer cells or slows their growth. Radiation therapy is used to either treat cancer or ease cancer symptoms.
Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before cancer cells start to die. Then, cancer cells keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy ends.
There are two main types of radiation therapy, external beam and internal.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy comes from a machine that aims radiation at your cancer and treats a specific part of your body.
Internal Radiation Therapy
Internal radiation therapy is a treatment in which a source of radiation is put inside your body. The radiation source can be solid or liquid in the form of seeds, ribbons, or capsules placed in your body in or near the cancer. You receive liquid radiation through an IV line. Liquid radiation travels throughout your body, seeking out and killing cancer cells.
Radiation Therapy Can Cause Side Effects
Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects. The most common side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue, which is feeling exhausted and worn out. Fatigue can happen all at once or little by little.
Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation treatment almost always recover after it is over. But sometimes people may have side effects that are severe or do not improve. Other side effects may show up months or years after radiation therapy is over. Doctors try to protect healthy cells during treatment by using as low a dose of radiation as possible, by spreading out treatment over time, and by aiming radiation at a precise part of your body.
Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer. For some people, chemotherapy may be the only treatment you receive. But most often, you will have chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depends on the type of cancer you have, if it has spread and where, and if you have other health problems.
When used with other treatments, chemotherapy can:
Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy, and destroy cancer cells that may remain after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy can also help other treatments work better.
Chemotherapy Can Cause Side Effects
Chemotherapy not only kills fast-growing cancer cells, but also kills or slows the growth of healthy cells that grow and divide quickly. Examples are cells that line your mouth and intestines and those that cause your hair to grow. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects, such as mouth sores, nausea, and hair loss. Side effects often get better or go away after you have finished chemotherapy.
The most common side effect is fatigue, which is feeling exhausted and worn out.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. The immune system is made up of white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system.
Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy which is a type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.
Types of Immunotherapy
Many different types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer. They include:
These are drugs that are designed to bind to specific targets in the body and cause an immune response that destroys cancer cells.
Other types of monoclonal antibodies can “mark” cancer cells so it is easier for the immune system to find and destroy them. These types of monoclonal antibodies may also be referred to as targeted therapy.
Adoptive cell transfer
This is a treatment that attempts to boost the natural ability of your T-cells to fight cancer. T-cells are a type of white blood cell and part of the immune system. Researchers isolate T-cells that are most active against your cancer from the tumor and then grow large batches of these T-cells in the lab and then inject them via a needle in your vein.
These are proteins that are made by your body’s cells. They play important roles in the body’s normal immune responses and also in the immune system’s ability to respond to cancer.
These work against cancer by boosting your immune system’s response to cancer cells.
This is an immunotherapy that is used to treat bladder cancer. When weakened form of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis is inserted directly into the bladder with a catheter, BCG causes an immune response against cancer cells.
How Immunotherapy Works against Cancer
One reason that cancer cells thrive is because they are able to hide from your immune system. Certain immunotherapies can mark cancer cells so it is easier for the immune system to find and destroy them. Other immunotherapies boost your immune system to work better against cancer.
Immunotherapy Can Cause Side Effects
Immunotherapy can cause side effects. The side effects you may have depend on the type of immunotherapy you receive and how your body reacts to it. The most common side effects are skin reactions at the needle site. These side effects include pain, swelling, soreness, redness, rash, fever, chills, nausea, fatigue, etc.