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    Oncology:
 
 

Adjuvant therapy:

 

 

Extra treatment to keep cancer from returning
Understand your options before you decide whether adjuvant therapy is for you. Balance the side effects with the benefits of treatment when making your decision.

You've already had surgery to remove your tumor. But how can you be sure that some cancer cells aren't hiding away in other parts of your body?

Your doctor might suggest adjuvant therapy as a way to target any remaining cancer cells that haven't been identified. Adjuvant therapy is used after primary treatments, such as surgery or radiation, to decrease the chance that your cancer will recur. But the added benefit of adjuvant therapy doesn't come without a price — the side effects can be more than minor inconveniences. Work with your doctor to determine if adjuvant therapy is right for you.

How effective is adjuvant therapy?

Because none of these treatments is completely harmless, it's important to determine the risks of adjuvant therapy versus the benefits. The following factors can help you and your doctor determine whether adjuvant therapy is appropriate for you and, if so, which type:

Type of cancer

Certain types of cancer — especially breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancers — benefit greatly from adjuvant therapy. Some other types of cancer might not benefit.

Tumor size.

A larger tumor is more likely to have spread throughout your body than a smaller tumor.
Number of lymph nodes involved. The larger the number of lymph nodes involved, the greater the chance that cancer cells will be left behind after local therapy, such as surgery.
Hormone receptivity. Hormone therapy won't be effective if your tumor is not hormonally sensitive.

Receiving adjuvant therapy doesn't guarantee your cancer won't recur. It can, however, help reduce the risk that your cancer will come back.
Which adjuvant therapy is best for you is based on your type of cancer and its stage.

Is adjuvant therapy for you?

As you're deciding whether adjuvant therapy is right for you, you might want to discuss the following issues with your doctor:

  • What procedures are you considering? Get to know exactly what will be expected of you during treatment. Will you have to see your doctor for injections or will you take pills at home?
  • What are the side effects? What side effects are you willing to live with? Which ones will be too much for you to endure? Do you plan to work or stay active during treatment? Could side effects interfere with your plans?
  • What are the chances you'll stay cancer-free? Understand how likely it is that your cancer will return if you decide against further therapy and how much improvement you might experience if you do undergo additional therapy. Your doctor can estimate how well your treatment will work based on comparisons with data accumulated from studies of other people with your same type of cancer, at the same stage and given the same treatment. Remember that this is only a prediction.

Together you and your doctor can weigh these factors and decide whether the benefits of adjuvant therapy outweigh the risks for you.

 

>back to "Oncology Treatment"


 

 

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