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Cancer is one of the most devastating diseases known to man. Like many other afflictions, there have been many significant advances in the treatment of cancer in the recent past. But overall, treatment is limited to four basic options.

Radiation therapy is effective because it takes advantage of the fact that rapidly dividing cancer cells are more susceptible to radiation than are normal cells. Radiation therapy can be used in one of two methods: it can either be applied be inserting radioactive seeds into the cancerous area or by firing an external beam of radiation at the affected area.

Chemotherapy is essentially the tactic of poisoning the body and hoping that the bad cells die before the good ones. Chemotherapy is often effective, but it can have some very serious side effects. Often times, these two treatments are used in conjunction with the third, surgery.

In cases where the cancer has not spread significantly and is not in a hard to reach area, doctors can sometimes remove all or part of the tumor surgically. Surgery is most often used when the cancer is caught at an early stage. The final treatment option doesn't really involve treatment at all.

In some very non-aggressive cancers or in older patients it is often better to take a "wait and see" approach, in which the cancer is monitored very carefully and is treated if necessary.