Treatment Terms

Adjuvant therapy: Treatment given after the main treatment to reduce the chance of cancer coming back by killing any remaining cancer cells. It usually refers to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and/or immunotherapy given after surgery.

Alternative medicine: Therapies and products used to treat cancer without conventional (standard) treatments. Learn more about complementary and alternative medicine.

Bone marrow transplant: A medical procedure in which diseased bone marrow is replaced by healthy bone marrow from a volunteer donor. Learn more about bone marrow transplantation.

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Learn more about chemotherapy.

Clinical trial: A research study that tests new treatments and/or prevention methods to find out whether they are safe, effective, and possibly better than the current standard of care (the best known treatment). Learn more about clinical trials.

Complementary medicine: A diverse group of treatments, techniques, and products that are used in addition to conventional treatments (also called integrative medicine). Learn more about complementary and alternative medicine.

Hormone therapy: Treatment that removes, blocks, or adds hormones to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells (also called hormonal therapy or endocrine therapy)

Immunotherapy: Treatment that is designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer (also called biologic therapy). It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function. Learn more about immunotherapy.

Neoadjuvant therapy: Treatment given before the main treatment. It may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy given before surgery to shrink a tumor so that it is easier to remove.

Palliative care: Palliative care is any form of treatment that concentrates on reducing a patient’s symptoms or treatment side effects, improving quality of life, and supporting patients and their families (also called supportive care). Learn more about palliative care.

Protocol: A formal, written action plan for how a clinical trial will be carried out. It states the goals and timeline of the study, who is eligible to participate, what treatments and tests will be given and how often, and what information will be gathered.

Radiation therapy: The use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells (also called radiotherapy). The most common type of radiation treatment is called external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. When radiation treatment is given using implants near the cancer cells, it is called internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. Proton therapy uses beams of high-energy protons to precisely deliver uniform radiation dose to the tumor site, with unique physical properties to control depth, position and the exact point at which the beam stops inside the body. Learn more about radiation therapy.

Regimen: A treatment plan that includes which treatments and procedures will be done, medications and their doses, the schedule of treatments, and how long the treatment will last

Standard of care: Care that experts agree or guidelines show is the most appropriate and/or effective for a specific disease

Surgery: The removal of cancerous tissue from the body through an operation. Learn more about cancer surgery.

Targeted treatment: Treatment that targets specific genes, proteins, or other molecules that contribute to cancer growth and survival. Learn more about targeted treatments.

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