Chemotherapy and other Systemic Treatments
What is Systemic Treatment?
Systemic treatment is medication used to fight disease throughout a patient’s entire body. Unlike local treatments such as surgery and radiation which target very specific areas, systemic therapies such as cytotoxic chemotherapy, molecularly targeted therapy and hormone or endocrine therapy are used to target cancer cells that may be circulating or which may have implanted in different locations throughout the body. These systemic therapies may be used alone, in combination with one another or alongside other modalities such as surgery and radiation.
How Does a Physician Decide Which Type of Systemic Treatment to Use?
Prior to the initiation of treatment, the medical oncologist will evaluate the characteristics of the patient’s cancer to detect specific cell markers or proteins in the cells. Based on the characteristics of the cells, the physician will design a treatment plan tailored to that particular patient’s cancer.