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Common Questions | Cancer Treatments

When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes this orderly process breaks down, and abnormal or damaged cells grow and multiply when they shouldn't. These cells may form tumors, which are lumps of tissue. Tumors can be cancerous or not cancerous (benign).

Some general signs and symptoms associated with, but not specific to, cancer, include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin
  • Weight changes, including unintended loss or gain
  • Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening or redness of the skin, sores that won't heal, or changes to existing moles
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Persistent cough or trouble breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating
  • Persistent, unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Persistent, unexplained fevers or night sweats
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

Recommendations for the types of screening tests and the ages you should get them vary according to cancer type. Have a conversation with your doctor.

There is no vaccine for cancer. But there are vaccines for some viruses that are known to cause cancer, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.

Yes. When cancer treatment appears to be working, your doctor might say the cancer is in remission. A partial remission occurs when the cancer shrinks but doesn’t disappear. A complete remission means there is no longer any sign of cancer.

The longer a cancer is in complete remission, the less likely it is to come back, and at some point your doctor might say the cancer has been cured.

Biomarker Testing for Cancer Treatment
Biomarker testing is a way to look for genes, proteins, and other substances (called biomarkers or tumor markers) that can provide information about cancer. Biomarker testing can help you and your doctor choose a cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Learn how chemotherapy works against cancer, why it causes side effects, and how it is used with other cancer treatments.

Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is a treatment that slows or stops the growth of breast and prostate cancers that use hormones to grow. Learn about the types of hormone therapy and side effects that may happen.

Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. This page covers the types of immunotherapy, how it is used against cancer, and what you can expect during treatment.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Learn about the types of radiation, why side effects happen, which ones you might have, and more.

Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cell transplants are procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in cancer patients who have had theirs destroyed by very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Learn about the types of transplants, side effects that may occur, and how stem cell transplants are used in cancer treatment.

When used to treat cancer, surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body. Learn the different ways that surgery is used against cancer and what you can expect before, during, and after surgery.

Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread. Learn how targeted therapy works against cancer and about common side effects that may occur.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. But chemotherapy drugs can also harm healthy cells, leading to treatment side effects.

Newer drugs, called targeted drugs, block genes or proteins found in the cancer cells. Targeted therapy usually causes less harm to healthy cells, but it still has side effects.

Immunotherapy uses hormones and other drugs that work with your immune system to treat cancer.

Drug prices are set by manufacturers. The price takes into account the costs behind the research and development of the drug, manufacturing costs, supply and demand, and other market and financial considerations.

In Canada, drug prices are controlled by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, an independent quasi-judicial body established by parliament in 1987 under the Patent Act. The board limits the prices set by manufacturers for all non-prescription and prescription patented drugs sold in Canada. The board’s primary role is to protect Canadians against excessive pharmaceutical prices.

For more information on drug prices, please visit the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

This stage means the cancer is still found in the place it started and hasn’t spread to nearby tissues. Stage 0 cancers are often curable.
  • Chest tightness or pressure.
  • Difficulty catching your breath.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fluid build up.
  • Heart palpitations (heart pounding or racing).
  • Pain or numbness in your legs or arms.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting.

Usually these stages represent larger cancers or tumors that have grown more deeply into nearby tissues. They also may have spread to lymph nodes. However, they haven’t spread to other organs or parts of the body.

Cancer in this stage has spread to other organs or parts of the body. It may be referred to as metastatic or advanced cancer.

Breast cancer’s causes are not exactly clear. Studies have identified numerous risk factors for breast cancer in women, including hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer. Other factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause
  • A first pregnancy after age 30 or no prior pregnancies
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Presence of certain inherited genetic changes
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest
  • Long-term use of combined hormone therapy
  • Alcohol use
  • Obesity after menopause

It's unclear why some people who have no risk factors develop cancer, while others with risk factors never do.

Considered a rare disease, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) typically forms in the soft tissues, blocking lymph vessels in the breast skin, they often become tender, swollen, red and itchy, but the underlying cause is not inflammation.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends the following early-detection screenings for women at average risk for breast cancer:

  • Optional mammograms beginning at age 40
  • Annual mammograms for women ages 45 to 54
  • Mammograms every two years for women 55 and older, unless they choose to stick with yearly screenings
  • MRIs and mammograms for some women at high risk of breast cancer

The ACS also recommends that women know the benefits and potential harms associated with breast cancer screening, as well as how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to their doctor right away.

The most common types of Cancer treated today include: 

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Colon and Rectal Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

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