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Combination Cancer Therapy

By The Manual's Editorial Staff,

What is combination cancer therapy?

Combination cancer therapy is when doctors treat your cancer with more than one type of treatment. The combination may be a mix of surgery, radiation therapy (uses high energy to shrink cancer tumors and destroy cancer cells), and chemotherapy (medicines to destroy cancer cells).

  • Doctors may give you several types of chemotherapy medicine at once (combination chemotherapy)—each medicine works differently to destroy your cancer cells, so they destroy more cancer cells together

  • Doctors may also treat your cancer with several types of treatment—for example, both chemotherapy and surgery

  • Doctors decide whether to use single or combination therapy depending on your stage and type of cancer

Why do doctors use combination cancer therapy?

  • Some cancers can’t be treated with just surgery or radiation therapy

  • Surgery or radiation therapy can treat a tumor in one part of your body, while chemotherapy treats cancer cells that have spread to other parts of your body

  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy can shrink your tumor before surgery, so less of it has to be cut out

  • After surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can help destroy cancer cells that a surgeon couldn't remove

  • Combination chemotherapy can help lengthen your life and lessen your symptoms