What Are the Types of Cancer Treatments?

What Are the Types of Cancer Treatments?

Cancer is a disease caused by abnormal cell division that destroys body tissue. Fortunately, modern medicine allows doctors to detect and treat cancer. Learn about the different types of cancer treatments that doctors use.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Not all medications kill cells the same way. For instance, traditional or standard chemotherapy uses cytotoxic drugs that kill tumor cells. Then, miotic inhibitors block cell growth.

Chemotherapy goals depend on the type of cancer a patient has. Disease progression also plays a major part, too. Here’s a quick look at treatments:

  • Curative treatment – the goal is to remove cancer cells and keep them from coming back.
  • Before other treatments – chemotherapy shrinks tumors before surgery or radiation therapy.
  • After other treatments – chemotherapy destroys the remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation.


A common way that doctors still use radioisotopes in medicine today is to treat cancer. Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is a cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. There are two types of radiation therapy: external beam and internal.

An external beam comes from a machine that aims radiation at the cancer’s site. The machine sends radiation to your body from different directions. External beam therapy is local, so it covers a specific part of your body.

Internal radiation therapy is a treatment that goes inside your body. Essentially, the physician places radioactive sources sealed in needles, seeds, or wires in or near a tumor. Like beam therapy, internal radiation is a local treatment that targets a specific part of your body.

Targeted Therapy

Another type of cancer treatment is targeted therapy. The treatment targets proteins that control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread. This treatment stops cancer cells from dividing and making new cells. Medical professionals can use targeted therapy on its own or with other treatments. For example, targeted therapy can run along with chemotherapy or radiation.


When doctors find cancer in one part of the body, they can perform surgery to remove it from the area. A common surgical procedure is a mastectomy, where doctors remove breast tissue to treat breast cancer.

In advanced stages of cancer, surgery removes some tumors to “de-bulk” areas of the body. For example, doctors remove large tumors that cause discomfort.

Surgery can follow other cancer treatments. Some patients do radiotherapy to shrink tumors and have surgery to remove the remaining tissue.

Other Treatments

The treatments listed above are common therapies for cancer. However, there are other options available. These include immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, stem cell transplant, and hormone therapy.

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