Looking for Dr. Joe Explains—You're in the right place.

Check out the Series

Add your deal, information or promotional text

Types of Cancer Treatments

Treatment(TREET-MINT) — Techniques to help eliminate or control a disease is a very general term that doctors use to describe their approach to your care. No matter which variation of treatment you receive, the goal is the same—to help prevent, remove, kill, or control the cancer. There are two main types of treatment: local treatment(LOW-COAL TREET-MINT) — Techniques targeting a single area of the body to eliminate or control a cancer and systemic treatment(SIS-TEM-IK TREET-MINT) — Techniques targeting the whole body to eliminate or control a cancer.

Local Treatment

Treatment that is directed at one spot or area of the body is referred to as local treatment. The main goal of local treatment is to remove or kill the cancer before they spread further to regions beyond the affected area and nearby lymph nodes(LIMFF NODES) — Glands that filter bodily fluid and react to infections.

Local treatment for cancer can take many forms. Surgery(SIR-JER-REE) — Physical removal of a tumor and radiation(RAY-DEE-A-SHUN) — High energy waves used to treat cancer in a specific area of the body are two very common methods of local treatment. Both methods only target the cancer and the areas close to it, but they do this in different ways. Surgery attempts to remove the cancer, while radiation directs invisible beams to a focused area to kill any cancer cells that might have been left behind. It’s like treating the flowerbed where the first dandelion appeared, as well as cleaning up any dandelions or seeds that may be left behind in the flowerbeds.

Related Article: What’s the Difference: Mastectomy vs. Lumpectomy


Systemic Treatment

If local treatment is like digging up a dandelion in one area of your flowerbed with a shovel, then systemic treatment is like applying a weed killer to the original flowerbed, the nearby flowerbeds, and the entire yard. Systemic treatment uses cancer-directed medication that treats the entire body at the same time. The goals of systemic treatment are similar to those of local treatment—to shrink and kill the cancer to try to prevent it from coming back.

Chemotherapy(KEY-MOW-THAIR-AH-PEE) — Medication used to treat cancer is the most well-known form of systemic treatment, but it’s not the only type. There are many types and categories of systemic treatment used today. The four main types of systemic treatment for cancer are hormonal therapy(HORE-MOAN-OL THAIR-AH-PEE) — Anticancer medication used to target estrogen and progesterone receptors, targeted therapy(TAR-GET-TED THAIR-AH-PEE) — Anticancer medication that attaches to a specific protein receptor and blocks the receptor’s normal function, immunotherapy(EM-MUN-O-THAIR-AH-PEE) — A biologic protein or antibody that targets a specific part of the immune system, and chemotherapy. Each type works to kill the cancer in a different way. The number of medications is expanding daily, helping cancer patients around the world live longer with a better quality of life.

Download the Highlights!
Before you go, download this handy takeaway to remember what you learned. Share it with friends and family, or use it to start a conversation with your doctor.
Go back to resource library

Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.