NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 53

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
Part 5: Understanding your treatment options
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Treatment types: Local therapies
As noted in Part 4, cancer therapies can be lumped into two basic groups: local
therapies that remove or destroy individual tumors or cancerous tissues, and
systemic therapies that go after cancer cells throughout the body.
Surgery can serve many purposes in the treatment of cancer.
Curative surgery
is done when the cancer is in just one area of the body and can likely be
completely removed by a surgeon with very little chance that it has spread to
other parts of the body. Sometimes radiation therapy may be done at the same
time as the surgery to make sure that all cancer cells have been destroyed. This
procedure is called
intraoperative radiation therapy
If the surgical margins and nearby lymph nodes show no signs of cancer,
curative surgery may be the end of your cancer treatment. However, many
oncologists recommend adjuvant radiation or systemic therapy just to make
sure that no cancer cells are left elsewhere in the body.
Debulking (or cytoreductive) surgery
is done when cancer is too advanced
or widespread to remove completely. In these cases, the surgeon removes as
much of the cancerous tissue as possible and treats what is left with radiation or
systemic therapy.
Palliative surgery
is not focused on cure. Like debulking surgery, palliative
surgery may attempt to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible, but
the goal is to correct situations that are causing pain or other problems. For
example, palliative surgery may be used to remove part of a tumor that is
pressing on other organs and causing pain, or that is blocking part of the
digestive tract.
Supportive surgery
includes procedures that make it easier to give other types
of treatment. If you are going to be receiving intravenous chemotherapy, for
Adjuvant treatment:
treatment given after the
main treatment used to
cure disease
given by a needle or tube
inserted into a vein
Lymph nodes:
groups of special disease-
fighting cells located
throughout the body
Radiation therapy:
Use of
high-energy rays to destroy
cancer cells
Surgical margin:
tissue around the edge of a
tumor removed by surgery
Systemic therapy:
used to treat cancer cells
throughout the body
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