Treatments, Tests, and Procedures
Learn more about the specific medical tests and procedures used to diagnose and treat cancer.
Personalized medicine involves selecting treatments based on a person’s unique genetic makeup and the genetic makeup of the tumor. By performing more genetic tests and analysis, doctors may customize treatment to each patient’s needs.
For early-stage breast cancer, doctors generally recommend surgery to remove the tumor. Some women can choose between two types of surgery: a lumpectomy or mastectomy, although lumpectomy is not always a recommended option. To help women talk with their doctors about this decision, Cancer.Net spoke with Julie Gralow, MD.
A placebo is an inactive drug or treatment in a clinical trial and is often referred to as a “sugar pill.” A placebo-controlled trial compares a new treatment with a placebo; people who receive a placebo are called the control group. The use of placebos in cancer clinical trials is rare. Cancer.Net talked with Richard L. Schilsky, MD, in 2008 to learn more about the emerging use of placebos in cancer clinical trials. This article was updated in 2012.
A breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam is a diagnostic examination that uses magnetic fields to capture multiple images of the breast tissue, which are combined to create detailed, computer-generated pictures of your breasts. A breast MRI sometimes is used to diagnose and evaluate breast tumors. Under some circumstances, this test may better identify a small mass within a woman's breast than a mammogram or ultrasound, particularly for women with very dense (non-fatty) breast tissue.
Most people visit their neighborhood retail pharmacy to fill prescriptions for medications. However, some people with cancer may be referred to what are known as specialty pharmacies to receive medications.
Proton therapy (also called proton beam therapy) is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons rather than x-rays to treat cancer. A proton is a positively charged particle that is part of an atom, the basic unit of all chemical elements, such as hydrogen or oxygen. At high energy, protons can destroy cancer cells.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. ASCO and Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) recently developed a decision aid tool to help people with NSCLC who have had surgery talk with their doctor about whether to have chemotherapy after surgery. Adjuvant therapy is additional treatment given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence (return of cancer after treatment). To learn more about this tool, Cancer.Net talked with two people who helped develop it: Christopher Azzoli, MD, and John Strawn, MD. Dr. Azzoli is a medical oncologist on the ASCO Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Expert Panel, and Dr. Strawn is a patient representative on the panel.
A bone marrow biopsy and aspiration is a diagnostic examination of the bone marrow that can provide information about the development and function of blood cells.
Donated umbilical cord blood can be used to treat people with life-threatening diseases including leukemia, other types of cancer, and immune and genetic disorders. Learn about the importance of umbilical cord blood, public versus private use, and how to become an umbilical cord blood donor.
Each year, thousands of people with life-threatening diseases affecting bone marrow function, such as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, aplastic anemia, and genetic and immune system disorders, are in need of a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplantation. In many cases, the bone marrow transplant represents a patient's only chance at survival and may even offer a cure. Learn how to register as a bone marrow donor.