Living With Cancer


Treatment Options for Cancer Patients

Cancer treatments are developed through a sequence of experiments, first in laboratories and animals (preclinical testing) and then in patients (clinical trials). If the clinical trial results show that the treatment helps patients, the treatment becomes part of standard treatment.


Standard Treatment options

Most cancers have standard treatment options, defined by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as "a currently accepted and widely used treatment for a certain type of cancer, based on the results of past research." Many of these treatments are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Non-Standard Treatment

Non-standard treatment options are treatments other than the standard treatments, and can include:

Off-label and Importing Drugs

Content under revision

Are New Cancer Drugs Better Than Existing Cancer Drugs?

New drugs - experimental drugs being tested in clinical trials - often sound great in early news stories. Remember:

  • No cancer drug works for every patient who uses it
  • Most cancer drugs have significant side effects
  • We don't know if a new treatment will be better than the existing treatment until comparison trials are complete.