Cancer Care

Cancer Treatments & Therapies

What are cancer treatments & therapies?

A team of doctors with different expertise will often work together on a patient’s individualized treatment plan. Cancer treatment is based on the type and stage of cancer. Associated side effects are also taken into consideration. Other factors include patient wishes and overall health.

  • Your care options: It is important to talk with your doctor and treatment team about the options for cancer treatment and cancer care. They will explain to you the goals for your treatment plan and how it will affect you. There are many treatment options, and they are often performed in combination and/or sequentially to be most effective.
  • Your confidence: After receiving a cancer diagnosis, making a decision about cancer treatment is an important step. You need to feel confident and comfortable with your choices. Doctors at MaineHealth are dedicated to working with patients to develop a cancer treatment and care plan that is the most effective and best for them.

Conditions and Services

View our complete list of cancer conditions and services.

Quick look at common treatments

Chemotherapy is a treatment with drugs that kills cancer cells. It keeps the cancer cells from rapidly growing and dividing to make more cells. Learn more.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. A vaccine exposes the immune system to an antigen, which triggers the immune system to recognize and destroy that protein or related materials.  Newer drugs block the immune checkpoints so that the body recognizes the tumor cells as being foreign and the patient’s immune response targets the tumor.
Integrative medicine combines medical treatments for cancer and complementary therapies to deal with symptoms and side effects. Complementary therapy may include oncology massage or acupuncture. Integrative medicine may entail complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); however, there are no true “alternatives” to cancer treatment.
Palliative care focuses on preventing, managing, and relieving the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment. It also provides comprehensive support to people living with cancer and to their family, friends, and caregivers.  Palliative care teams are experts in managing pain and supporting the transition(s) in a cancer illness and end-of-life.
Personalized therapy looks at a person’s genetic makeup or molecular signature of the tumor. Using this information, doctors hope to find prevention, screening and treatment strategies that may be more effective, and tailored to their unique needs.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The goal of this cancer treatment is to destroy cancer cells and delay tumor growth, without harming surrounding healthy tissue. Learn more.
Stem cell transplant gives patients new stem cells, which can make new, healthy blood cells. In the past, patients who needed a stem cell transplant received a “bone marrow transplant,” because the stem cells were collected from the bone marrow. Current treatments involve stem cells collected from the peripheral blood, instead of the bone marrow.
Surgery is the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue during an operation. Surgery is the oldest type of cancer therapy and remains an effective treatment for many types of cancer today especially at the earliest stages of disease. Learn more.
Targeted therapy uses drugs to help stop cancer from growing and spreading. The drugs work by targeting specific genes or proteins that are found in cancer cells or in cells related to cancer growth, like blood vessel cells.

What is interventional radiology?

Interventional radiology is a medical specialty that safely treats diseases and conditions using diagnostic imaging equipment. These procedures are minimally invasive, which means they are done with tiny incisions instead of one large opening as with conventional surgery. Patients have much less pain. Recovery time is much shorter.

Learn more about MaineHealth interventional radiology services.