Cancer can be one of the most devastating diagnoses that a doctor can tell a patient. It is one of those conditions that can literally change someone's life, and it has plagued humankind for ages. Only recently have any viable means of combating cancer emerged thanks to medical science, along with better ways of detecting it before it causes too much damage. However, there is still quite a bit about this condition that we are not certain of, and many treatments may not work all the time for the more stubborn cancers. The current treatments include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and the use of hormones.

Surgery is among the oldest known treatments for cancer. Most patients with cancer will undergo surgery, having doctors remove the tumors if it is found early on. This option has the benefit of depriving it of a chance to grow, or to remove a tumor before it starts to spread. It is not the kind of treatment that is used alone, however. Most doctors would insist their patients undergo one other form of therapy along with the surgery. This is because there are some cases where the cancer, even if the tumor is removed, is capable of persisting. The other therapy is designed to help make sure that the cancer does not return once the tumor has been taken out.

Radiation therapy is also a viable and somewhat common option for dealing with cancer. The area where the growth occurs is exposed to radiation to attack the cancerous cells. The radiation kills the cancerous cells, but it can also damage healthy cells in the process, causing numerous side effects that can range from unpleasant to potentially dangerous. It is often used not as a treatment in itself, but as a way of making tumors smaller and easier to manage. Once made to shrink into a more acceptable or controllable size, surgery might be suggested to remove what is left.

Chemotherapy, which a cancer treatment that utilizes certain medications and drugs, is considered an effective means of treating cancer once it has spread to other areas of the body, particularly if it cannot be treated by any other method. This form can also be used to limit the spread of cancer cells in the body, and alleviate some of its symptoms. However, similar to the use of radiation, chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells that are exposed to it. In such a case, it can cause the same general side effects.

Two recent developments include hormone therapy and immunotherapy, though neither one is very widespread. The first one utilizes hormones and manipulates the levels in the body to treat the cancer. This may include administering hormones along with medication. Removal of hormone glands to kill cancer cells and prevent further growth is also known. Immunotherapy functions by manipulating the body's immune functions, making the immune system attack cancerous cells through the use of medications.