Take a Look at Two Common Cancer Treatments
Chances are you’ve heard of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with cancer, your doctor has likely discussed the possibilities both types of treatment offer you for long-term health. However, while you might know that one or both of these treatments could offer you hope for a cancer-free future, you may not fully understand what they really mean. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The term chemotherapy means using medication to treat cancer. Chemotherapy drugs may be used before or after surgery, with radiation therapy, or by themselves.
Depending on the type of cancer and chemotherapy, patients take medication by mouth, as a shot, or as an IV. Chemotherapy may be administered as frequently as every day or as infrequently as once a month.
While medications used for chemotherapy are designed to kill cancer cells, they may affect healthy cells as well. When this happens, patients experience side effects, which may include fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, and nausea among other symptoms.
Radiation therapy uses a stream of high-energy particles or waves, such as X-rays or gamma rays, to destroy cancer cells. According to the American Cancer Society, almost half of all cancer patients receive radiation during their cancer treatment.
Much like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can be used on its own or in combination with other types of treatment. Often, physicians use radiation to shrink a tumor and then surgically remove the mass.
People undergoing radiation therapy may experience negative side effects in the weeks and months following surgery. However, unlike chemotherapy, the side effects of radiation therapy are usually limited to the site where the radiation was administered.
To learn more about chemotherapy and radiation therapy, log on to the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org.
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|Complementary and Alternative Therapies: Are They an Answer?|
As Americans have become more savvy about their health care, people have begun seeking out alternative and complimentary therapies to prevent and treat cancer. For some, certain therapies can help relieve side effects of medical cancer treatment, ease the pain associated with cancer, and enhance life during treatment.
How can you know if the alternative or complementary therapy you’re considering will be good for your health?
1. Do your research.
The Web is an excellent resource for health information. However, you must be careful to explore reliable sites. Good places to start include the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at www.nccam.nih.gov.
2. Talk to your doctor.
After carefully researching therapies you’re interested in, discuss them with your doctor. Your physician can identify possible health concerns and interactions with your medical cancer treatment.
Olympic Medical Center provides local expertise for all your health care needs. For more information on cancer care, please visit our website.