How Cancer is Treated

Watch the Cancer.Net Video: Types of Cancer Treatment, with Sundar Jagannath, MD, adapted from this content.

The cancer treatment options your doctor recommends depends on the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient's preferences and overall health. In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patient's overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team.

View a short video produced by the Hawaii Society of Clinical Oncology in the Tagalog language or Ilocano language with information about this topic. Panoorin ang isang maikling video na ito sa wikang Tagalog na may impormasyon tungkol sa kanser na ito. Buya-en daytoy ababa nga Ilokano a bidyo maipanggep kadagiti impormasyon kadetoy a kanser.

Making Decisions About Cancer Treatment

Empower yourself to make decisions about your cancer treatment by following these 10 tips. You can also listen to the Cancer.Net Podcast adapted from this content.

Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplantation

A stem cell transplant (sometimes called a bone marrow transplant) replaces diseased bone marrow with highly specialized stem cells that develop into healthy bone marrow. The articles in this section describe this treatment and its potential side effects.


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The articles in this section describe chemotherapy, its side effects, and what to expect when undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Clinical Trials

Information on clinical trials and patient safety, steps involved in the research process, questions to ask the research team, and links to find cancer clinical trials.

Immunotherapy and Vaccines

Immunotherapy and vaccines are types of cancer treatments that use the body's immune system to fight cancer.

Personalized and Targeted Therapies

Personalized or targeted therapies are types of treatment that targets a cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. The articles in this section describe radiation therapy, what to expect when receiving radiation therapy, and side effects of radiation therapy.


Surgery (the removal of cancerous tissue from the body) is the oldest type of cancer therapy. The articles in this section describe surgery, what to expect when undergoing, and side effects of surgery.

Understanding Maintenance Therapy

Maintenance therapy is the ongoing use of chemotherapy (the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells) or another treatment to help lower the risk of recurrence (return of cancer) after it has disappeared following initial therapy. Maintenance therapy also may be used for patients with advanced cancer (cancer that cannot be cured) to help keep it from growing and spreading farther. In either situation, this type of treatment may be given for a long time.

Palliative Care

Palliative care focuses on preventing, managing, and relieving the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine is a combination of medical treatments for cancer and complementary therapies to cope with the symptoms and side effects. You may sometimes hear integrative medicine called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, there are no true "alternatives" to cancer treatment.

When the First Treatment Doesn't Work

Sometimes the first treatment for cancer doesn’t work. Find out more about considering other available treatment options and how to talk with your health care team about them.

Drug Information Resources

A list of online prescription drug databases that describe how medications work, the cancers for which they are generally prescribed, safety precautions, and potential side effects.