NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, Version 1.2017
Surgery can be:
Open where the surgeon makes a large
incision and takes out the tumor and some
surrounding tissues or lymph nodes.
Minimally invasive where small cuts are made
rather than a large one. A thin, lighted scope
(laparoscope) is inserted and the surgeon
uses tools for the surgery.
Other surgery done before or after treatment:
Restorative (or reconstructive) surgery to
repair damage caused by other cancer
treatments. The most familiar example of this
kind of surgery is breast reconstruction, in
which a surgeon restores the appearance of
the breast after the removal of breast cancer.
Preventive (or prophylactic) surgery to remove
tissue that carries a high risk of becoming
cancer, such as precancerous polyps in the
colon. Preventive surgery can also be done
for people with genetic mutations that put
them at risk for certain cancers.
For example, a woman with cancer in
one breast who has the gene mutation
associated with a high risk for breast
cancer may choose to have her
healthy breast removed (prophylactic
Many techniques are used for surgery and can be
talked about with a surgeon. Each surgery is carefully
planned by your surgical team, which includes the
surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses. A patient
having surgery has a risk of infection and may
experience pain. The medical team takes time to plan
ahead and give support after surgery. Follow-up care
is necessary for healing. You need to know when you
can return to normal activities and your diet.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or rays
to kill cancer cells. It can also damage the cells’ DNA
so they can no longer grow or divide. Radiation is
given over a certain period of time planned by the
radiation treatment team. This type of treatment is
given to cure cancer and as a supportive treatment
to help ease discomfort or pain. It can also be given
before, during, or after surgery to treat or slow the
growth of cancer.
There two main kinds of radiation treatment:
External beam radiation
uses a machine outside of
the body to aim radiation at the cancer. It is planned
to treat a certain area of the body where cancer can
is when radiation in placed inside
the body as a solid like seeds or capsules, or it can
be given in liquid form.
The solid form is called brachytherapy and
would be placed in a specific area in or
around the cancer.
The liquid radiation can be given through an
IV (intravenous) into a vein to find cancer cells
in the body. This would be a systemic form of
The radiation oncologist and other treatment staff
take time to plan the treatment that is right for you.
Even with planning, the radiation can harm healthy
tissue near the cancer. Side effects like fatigue or skin
irritation can happen.
Radiation is given at different doses and schedules.
External radiation can be given once, for days, or
even weeks, so planning time off from work or school
is important. Any concern about the schedule or side
effects can be discussed with your doctor before you
Understanding your treatment options
What are local treatments?