Unit Overview: Standard Treatments

Welcome to Standard Treatments.

In this unit we will cover the science behind radiation and chemotherapy and how these treatments and surgery are used in cancer care. While advanced treatment options have fewer side-effects these treatments still have their benefits and uses. Alex often explains that chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are useful to ‘clear the field’, so to speak, so advanced treatments can do the deeper work.

The standard approach to cancer treatment uses three main techniques:

  • Surgery to remove diseased tissues
  • Radiation which kill cancerous cells and reduce tumours (formerly: creates DNA mutations in rapidly dividing cells)
  • Chemotherapy which interferes chemically with rapidly dividing cells 

As medical science has advanced many of the changes in standard care have focused on optimizing these drugs and tools. For example when, and in what combination, to use radiation and chemotherapy. While more advanced treatment options are available, these standard treatments still play an important role in cancer care and treatment. These treatments work well when used in combination with each other and with more advanced treatment options. However the basis of standard care is typically used to control disease in most cases, and not cure it. 

Transcript - Overview - Standard Treatments.pdf
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