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                                     Cancer treatment: What else do we need to know?

Cancer treatment guidelines: Page #2 

The optimal cancer treatment is when it is detected early and is able to be removed surgically.  However, sometimes cancers are located in places that make surgery impractical, such as deep in the brain.  Also, some cancers have already spread making removal of the original tumor impossible.  Sometimes, doctors may give additional therapy such as radiation treatment to eliminate cancer cells in nearby lymph nodes, or chemotherapy or hormone therapy to eliminate cancer cells throughout the entire body.  Thus, cancer treatment referred to as adjuvant therapy is frequently used in breast, colon, head and neck cancers. 

People are frequently referred to cancer treatment centers which specialize in the treatment of cancer.  These centers are staffed with doctors and other health-care practitioners who have expertise in treating this specific disease.  These treatment centers often offer drugs and cancer treatment programs that are at the forefront of research into possible new treatment approaches. 

Some people are even offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials or research studies revealing the effectiveness of new medical treatments.  Although these cancer treatments may be experimental, they are usually carefully monitored by the review boards of universities and hospitals.  The safety measures involved usually require that individuals receive care at hospitals or medical centers while participating in these clinical research trials. 

Sometimes, people seek alternative cancer treatments or a combination of alternative and conventional medicine treatment.  Although some alternative therapies have been found to be helpful, people should not rely on them to the exclusion of proven effective conventional therapies.  You should always discuss this issue with your doctor when pursuing alternative cancer treatments. 

Some older people prefer not to undergo any cancer treatment, other than to relieve pain and suffering.  These decisions are often appropriate when the cancer cannot be cured and the treatment is likely to cause side effects.  A person may choose to participate in enjoyable activities and travel while feeling well, rather than always feeling ill due to the treatments.  These decisions should always be made with full information about the risks and benefits of cancer treatment options, and require careful consultation and discussion with a knowledgeable cancer specialist.

Some information from The Merck Manual of Health of Aging 

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic M.A. Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate (Health Psychology)


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