There isn’t one type of cancer treatment that works for everybody.

Just as there are lots of different types of cancers, there are different ways to treat them. Your specialist and medical team will put together an individual treatment plan for you that takes into account:

  • the type of cancer you have
  • its stage (such as how big the tumour is or how far it has spread)
  • your general health.

The three main ways to treat cancer – surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy – are explained in this section of the website. There is also information about bone marrow transplants, high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell support and clinical trials.

Your treatment plan (sometimes called a ‘protocol’, 'regimen' or 'regime') may include just one of these treatments, or a combination of them.

Before treatment

Before your treatment plan is put into action, your doctor will discuss with you exactly what is going to happen and the benefits, risks and potential side effects of the treatments they are recommending.

Your doctor or nurse will also be happy to answer any questions you have and repeat the information as often as you need. It might help to write down your questions before each appointment, so you don’t forget anything you wanted to ask about.

Other drugs and therapies

When you are receiving treatment for cancer, it’s best not to take any other medications or start any complementary therapies without first speaking to your doctor. You also need to let your care team know if you’ve been using any recreational drugs, such as marijuana. If you are taking steroids for bodybuilding, they need to know about this too. These drugs may affect your treatment or some blood test results, so it’s important to be honest with your hospital team.

Updated December 2014, next planned review 2017.