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At the Stanford Health Care’s Comprehensive Cancer Program, our medical oncologists use several types of drug therapy:
Chemotherapy: This group of medications stops the growth of rapidly dividing cells in the body, both cancerous and noncancerous. While powerful, chemotherapy can cause more side effects than other medication types, because it cannot distinguish between cancerous and healthy cells. Chemotherapy is a treatment option for almost anyone with cancer.
Hormone (endocrine) therapy: Some cancers grow in response to male or female hormones. Hormone therapy lowers the amount of these hormones or blocks their effect, slowing or even stopping the cancer’s growth. Hormone therapy works only for cancers that have hormone receptors, so it is not for everyone.
Targeted therapy: These medications slow the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific parts of cancerous cells. For treatment to work, the cancer must have the specific markers a particular medication was designed to target.
Immunotherapy: These medications use components from the immune system to prompt your body to fight disease. Immunotherapy is a new therapy that has become important in treating many cancers.