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Cancer treatments

Cancer treatments are being continually developed. Increasingly more effective and better-targeted treatments are available. As treatment has developed, the outcomes have improved. Treatment outcomes in Finland are outstanding by international comparisons.

Cancer surgery

Surgery is the first option in the treatment of many firm malignant tumours. Surgery to treat cancer removes the cancerous tumour and the healthy tissue surrounding it to prevent the spread of the tumour locally.


Radiotherapy is a common from of cancer treatment. Radiotherapy uses high energy, ionising radiation, known as radioactivity. Along with surgery, radiotherapy is another important form of treatment of localised cancer.

Cytotoxic drugs or cytostatics

Cytotoxic drugs or cytostatics (also cytotoxic chemotherapy) are drugs used to destroy cancer cells. Cytotoxic drugs inhibit cell division and in this way cause cancer cells to die. Cytotoxic drugs are transported in the bloodstream throughout the body.

Other cancer therapies

A number of other cancer therapies are used along with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. They include hormone therapy, protein kinases inhibitors and immunotherapy. New treatments for cancer are being actively developed and researched.

After treatment – follow-up care

After receiving treatment patients receive follow-up care. Cancer patients are monitored at regular intervals. Follow-up care varies according to the type of cancer and its distribution. Often, after treatment, patients are monitored for a while under specialised medical care, and then later are monitored under primary health care.

Chronic cancer

Cancer cannot always be cured permanently, but the spread of the disease can be halted or slowed. This is when cancer becomes chronic. Chronic cancer may progress very slowly or remain unchanged.

Cancer pain

Cancer and its treatment can cause various sorts of pain. Pain is the most common and, in terms of quality of life, the most important cancer-related symptom. About half of all cancer patients experience pain.


Living with cancer, cancer treatment and recovering from the disease are heavy experiences in very many respects. This is why cancer patients need to undergo rehabilitation. The need for rehabilitation varies greatly with different types of cancer and among different patient groups.


The Cancer Society of Finland provides rehabilitative activities in the form of orientation courses and recreational courses for cancer patients and their loved ones. Courses for cancer patients are organised by regional cancer associations and national patient organisations, either by themselves or in connection with rehabilitation course centres.

Terminal care

Terminal care refers to the treatment provided to a critically ill person in a situation where curative treatment has been discontinued. Dying patients are not left to cope with their condition even though the progress of their disease can no longer be influenced.

Alternative cancer treatments

There is no official definition of alternative cancer therapies or belief-based treatments. Alternative treatments involve therapies and methods that are not rooted in medical scientific knowledge and their effectiveness or safety has not been reliably established.