Why Surgical Removal of Tumors Is Often Just a First Step
When a tumor is found and confirmed as malignant, cancer patients find themselves at the center of a whirlwind of activity. For many, the process of fighting the disease only begins with surgery. After that, a host of treatments come into play that is designed to ensure cancer cells have been properly removed and that the likelihood of recurrence is lessened.
Known as adjuvant cancer therapy, these secondary treatments can sometimes seem unnecessary – especially to the patient undergoing the process – but the truth is they’re quite important. While surgical procedures to remove tumors can be quite successful, the reality is a single cell left behind can start the entire process all over again. That means a patient might find a relapse on the horizon when a secondary treatment could have prevented it.
The main purpose of adjuvant cancer therapy for medical staff is to do everything possible to ensure tumors are truly gone. While surgery can remove the bulk, the adjuvant therapy takes over to ensure a patient has the best possible chance for recovery without a slightest chance for cancer to resurface again. These types of secondary therapies may include such measures as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or biological therapy. In some cases, a combination of these measures may be prescribed.
While targeted adjuvant therapy is quite common, systemic adjuvant therapy is also quite common. In this form of therapy, a medical team will treat the entire body to attempt to eradicate any stray cancer cells that may have already moved beyond the main tumor site. In the case of breast cancer, for example, small cells may have been missed that have moved beyond the initial tumor. Adjuvant therapy works to kill these remaining cells while helping in preventing further cancer formation down the road.
While it can be disconcerting to hear that major surgery is only the first step on the road to recovery, adjuvant therapy is equally important for helping ensure the best chance of success in fight against cancer. If your doctors have recommended these secondary measures, they’ve done so for a reason. If you’re not sure why they’ve been indicated, make sure to ask questions on your next visit and clear all the doubts you have regarding this treatment. Your oncologist should be able to explain what you can expect and why this secondary treatment is important in your case and how it can help you in living a long, happy and healthy life.
By: Rheta Mankin