The Treatment of Cancer
The treatment of cancer is multifaceted, meaning that a number of different ways of tackling the problem are employed, often at the same time, to give the maximum possible benefit to the patient. These treatment methods include not only the mainstream therapies of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but other important and developing scientific approaches such as immunotherapy and hormonal treatments. Other additional treatments are also available where required (like stem-cell therapy, see p. 108), and supportive treatments (such as blood transfusions) are vital in many cases to maintain the normal state of the body. Some patients also believe in other adjunct treatments such as herbal medicines and aromatherapy, and these can give the patient comfort and hope. Mixed in with this cocktail of treatments is the need for pain control (the subject of Chapter 10) and management of the stress and anxiety that the diagnosis of cancer will bring. This chapter looks at the biology behind the main treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy.