Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer Treatment
When it comes to being diagnosed with cancer, there are a lot of myths
and rumors that can make it difficult for patients to make decisions about
their treatment. Here are some common questions people ask about cancer
treatment. You should feel comfortable asking your doctor any questions
you may have about starting your treatment.
How is cancer treated?
Some of the major ways we treat cancer are
medicine or chemotherapy,
immunotherapy. Sometimes a patient might need a combination of these. No matter what
your treatment plan, you will have access to the highest-quality treatments
right here in Baton Rouge.
How will my doctor decide how to treat my cancer?
The type and stage of cancer, any prior treatment and several other factors
will determine what type of cancer treatment you will need. Your doctor
will consider your personal preferences and make recommendations based
on experience, research and what the goal of treatment is, like whether
it can be controlled or cured. There are many standards and guidelines
that help patients and their providers make the very best choices about
treatment and care.
What are the side effects of cancer treatment?
- Chemo: Side effects of chemo can include short-term nausea, vomiting, hair
loss and mouth sores. These side effects are often treatable. Your cancer
team will work with you to manage the side effects of chemo and as soon
as treatment is complete, most side effects stop. Hair usually grows back
after your treatment is over.
- Radiation: While going through radiation, some patients experience skin
irritation at the treatment site and fatigue. Fatigue can cause low energy
that can last throughout treatment and sometimes for many weeks after
treatment is complete.
Does cancer treatment hurt?
When someone has cancer, pain can be an issue. Whether it's caused
by the cancer or the treatment itself, you can work with your doctor make
sure that your pain is controlled. Controlling your pain is essential
to your treatment.
- Surgery: Often, the surgical removal of cancer or a tumor can cause pain
in the area of the surgery. This is typically related to nerve injury
that can take place during the surgery itself and will usually subside
- Radiation: This type of treatment can cause irritation and a burning sensation
on the skin where the radiation is being done. Sometimes other uncomfortable
symptoms might include mouth sores, fatigue and diarrhea.
- Chemo: Nausea, fatigue, infection nerve pain are common causes of discomfort
during chemotherapy. Many patients can use medication or relaxation techniques
that help ease these side effects.
Pain medications can be prescribed as well as taking over the counter medications
for pain during treatment. It is important to talk to your doctor about
long-term side effects of these medications before taking them.
Can cancer treatment be dangerous?
When it comes to deciding to getting cancer treatment, many people are
fearful that treatment can be worse than cancer and they might not get
treated. It is important for a person who is concerned about side effects
or health concerns due to treatment to understand the likely outcomes
of being treated or not being treated before making a decision.
What might happen to me if I do not get treatment?
If left untreated, cancer and it's symptoms will get worse and build
up over time. The longer treatment is put off and more serious symptoms
begin, cancer may become less and less treatable. Cancer kills by invading
organs such as your lungs, intestines, brain liver and kidneys and interferes
with bodily functions necessary to live. Cancer that is left untreated
commonly causes death.
What does "remission" mean?
When going through treatment, remission can mark a major change in your
cancer journey and health. The word remission is often thought of a point
of being done with treatment, but it is actually more complicated than that.
Partial remission means that the cancer is still there, however your tumor has gotten smaller
or that you have less cancer in your body. This means you will still need
to continue to check but it also may mean you can take a break as long
as the cancer does not start to grow again.
Complete remission means that all tests and scans show that all signs of your cancer are
gone. While this doesn't necessarily mean you are "cured"
it is often referred to as "no evidence of disease (NED)".
Are there any clinical trials available at Pennington Cancer Center for
my type of cancer?
Clinical trials are research studies with volunteers that test new treatments
to see if they are safe and how well they work. These studies may also
test new ways to find or prevent a disease, and have led to many new ways
to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. To see which clinical trials Pennington
Cancer Center is currently participating in, click