Chemotherapy has been around since the 1950s and it remains one of the most effective treatments for many types of cancer. The more you know about the treatment, including the different chemotherapy types, how chemotherapy works, and what to expect, the better prepared you will be to undergo chemotherapy treatment.
Some cancers, such as certain breast and prostate cancers, require hormones to grow and spread. Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of these cancer cells by depriving them of the hormones they need to grow. Hormone therapy is sometimes used to shrink cancer tumors prior to surgery.
Immunotherapy drugs stimulate the body’s own immune system to battle cancer. Although immunotherapies began to be used officially in the late 1990s, some believe the concept dates back more than 100 years to when doctors first noticed that some cancer patients went into remission after their immune system fought a fever.
Radiation therapy has been used since the early 1900s to treat cancer. In some cases, it’s is used alone to kill cancer cells. However, radiation therapy is most commonly used along with surgery and/or chemotherapy. The decision to include radiation therapy in your treatment plan was made based on many unique factors.
The newest class of cancer drug is targeted therapy, also called molecularly targeted therapy or precision medicine. Traditional chemotherapy drugs attack all fast-growing cells in the body; however, targeted therapies have the ability to identify and attack just cancer cells. This means less damage to healthy cells and fewer side effects.
Cancer is a powerful disease that often requires more than one type of treatment. Your doctor will likely recommend some combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. New research shows chemotherapy may actually enhance the effects of radiation when administered at the same time; therefore, it may be the best option for your cancer treatment.