Your doctor says the surgery to take out your tumor was a success, but then refers you to another doctor to consider more treatment — called adjuvant therapy.
Adjuvant therapy is often used after primary treatments, such as surgery, to lessen the chance of your cancer coming back. Even if your surgery was successful at removing all visible cancer, microscopic bits of cancer sometimes remain and are undetectable with current methods.
Adjuvant therapy given before the main treatment is called neoadjuvant therapy. This type of adjuvant therapy can also decrease the chance of the cancer coming back, and it's often used to make the primary treatment — such as an operation or radiation treatment — easier or more effective.
Adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapy can cause significant side effects, and these treatments don't benefit everyone.
Types of cancer treatment that are used as adjuvant therapy include:
Because none of these treatments is completely harmless, it's important to determine the risks of adjuvant therapy versus the benefits. The following factors can help you and your doctor determine whether adjuvant therapy is appropriate for you and, if so, which type:
Receiving adjuvant therapy doesn't guarantee your cancer won't recur. It can, however, help reduce the risk that your cancer will come back.
As you're deciding whether adjuvant therapy is right for you, you might want to discuss the following issues with your doctor: