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Many people who have stages 1, 2, or 3 cancer have surgery to remove the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue. Our cancer care teams pair drug therapy with surgery in different ways:
Before surgery: Neoadjuvant (preoperative) drug therapy can shrink tumors to make them easier to remove and to make surgery more effective. Sometimes, neoadjuvant therapy can shrink the tumor almost completely. If the pathologist (doctor who specializes in testing) cannot find any remaining cancer cells, this result is called a pathologic complete response.
After surgery: We often use drug therapy as an adjuvant treatment to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Studies have shown that drug therapy can help you live longer and prevent or delay cancer from returning for many types of cancer. Chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy have all been used as adjuvant therapy.