• Sat. May 18th, 2024

How is cancer treated?


Jan 21, 2023
cancer treated

The diversity and number of therapeutic molecules are increasingly important, allowing increasingly individualized treatments according to the type of tumor and its molecular markers.


The treatment of cancers by surgery involves removing the tumour. We talk about excision or resection. It is used in about 80% of cases and therefore remains the main treatment for cancer. Its aim is curative (when it removes 100% of tumor cells). But it can also be performed for diagnostic purposes (the removed tissue is analyzed to clarify the nature of the lesion and facilitate the choice of additional curative treatments) or for palliative purposes (to relieve pain related to the size of the tumor, to facilitate the functioning of the affected organ…). Interventions can in some cases be carried out on an outpatient basis, that is to say on a scheduled basis, without overnight stay. It allows the patient to leave the hospital on the same day of entry, when security conditions are met.

Early detection of many cancers allows for less invasive procedures on smaller tumors, with micro-incisions to reduce trauma.

Support: Sheet: Treating cancer with radiotherapy

This sheet from the Understanding and Acting collection provides reliable and accessible information to patients, their loved ones and all those affected by the disease.

Radiotherapy is based on the use of ionizing rays, the high energy of which destroys cancer cells. There are two types of radiotherapy: external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy (or brachytherapy). In the case of external radiotherapy, the rays are emitted by an external source placed opposite the lesion. They pass through the patient’s skin to achieve their purpose. During internal radiotherapy, radiation is emitted by a source which is introduced at the site of the tumor itself. These are usually balls, microspheres or wires made of radioactive iridium or cesium.

Radiation therapy, alone or in combination with chemotherapy, is generally curative. It is sometimes used as a palliative treatment, to reduce local symptoms associated with the tumour. Radiotherapy sessions are carried out in the majority of cases on an outpatient basis, that is to say without an overnight stay in the hospital. At the end of the treatment, which lasts about thirty minutes, the patient returns home. The radiotherapy team provides follow-up.


This sheet from the Understanding and Acting collection provides reliable and accessible information to patients, their loved ones and all those affected by the disease.

Chemotherapy involves the administration of so-called “cytotoxic” drugs which will destroy the tumor cells. These drugs can act on different processes involved in cell multiplication. A chemotherapy protocol often uses a combination of several drugs that act on these different processes. Each cure consists of treating the patient for several days, then observing a period of rest during which healthy cells can regenerate

Chemotherapy is administered intravenously on an outpatient basis in the vast majority of cases, that is to say during the day in the hospital. Some centers also offer chemotherapy at home, but only for certain treatments with short-term infusions and which do not expose you to the risk of significant adverse effects. Chemotherapy is also now available orally in tablets to take at home and has equivalent effectiveness.

Chemotherapy is often feared because of its side effects (hair loss, nausea, vomiting, drop in the number of blood cells, etc.). Indeed, chemotherapy drugs attack not only tumor cells but also healthy cells that are actively multiplying such as hair, blood or digestive mucous membranes.

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