All Medical Procedures

During active surveillance for prostate cancer, your doctor closely monitors your prostate cancer for any changes. Active surveillance for prostate cancer is sometimes called watchful waiting.

No cancer treatment is provided during active surveillance for prostate cancer. This means medications, radiation and surgery aren't used. Periodic tests are done to check for signs the cancer is growing.

You might consider active surveillance for prostate cancer if your cancer is small, expected to grow very slowly, confined to one area of your prostate, and isn't causing signs or symptoms.

If you have other health problems that limit your life expectancy, active surveillance for prostate cancer may also be a reasonable approach.

The BRCA gene test is a blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify harmful changes (mutations) in either one of the two breast cancer susceptibility genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited mutations in these genes face a much higher risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer compared with the general population.

The BRCA gene test is offered only to people who are likely to have an inherited mutation, based on personal or family history, or who have specific types of breast cancer. The BRCA gene test isn't routinely performed on women at average risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Having a BRCA gene mutation is uncommon. Inherited BRCA gene mutations are responsible for about 5 percent of breast cancers and about 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers.

From a BRCA gene test, you learn whether you carry an inherited BRCA gene mutation and receive an estimate of your personal risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Genetic counseling is an important part of the BRCA gene test process.

Bone marrow biopsy and bone marrow aspiration are procedures to collect and examine bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside some of your larger bones.

Bone marrow biopsy and aspiration can show whether your bone marrow is healthy and making normal amounts of blood cells. Doctors use these procedures to diagnose and monitor blood and marrow diseases, including some cancers, as well as fevers of unknown origin.

Bone marrow has a fluid portion and a more solid portion. In bone marrow biopsy, your doctor uses a needle to withdraw a sample of the solid portion. In bone marrow aspiration, a needle is used to withdraw a sample of the fluid portion.

Bone marrow biopsy and bone marrow aspiration are often done at the same time. Together, these procedures may be called a bone marrow exam.

A breast biopsy is a procedure to remove a small sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing. Breast biopsy is a way to evaluate a suspicious area in your breast to determine if it is breast cancer. There are several types of breast biopsy procedures.

A breast biopsy provides a sample of tissue that doctors use to identify and diagnose abnormalities in the cells that make up breast lumps or other unusual breast changes. And the lab report from the breast biopsy can help determine whether you need additional surgery or other treatment.

A CA 125 test measures the amount of the protein CA 125 (cancer antigen 125) in your blood.

A CA 125 test may be used to monitor certain cancers during and after treatment. In some cases, a CA 125 test may be used to look for early signs of ovarian cancer in women with a very high risk of the disease.

A CA 125 test isn't accurate enough to use for ovarian cancer screening in all women because many noncancerous conditions can increase the CA 125 level.

Many different conditions can cause an increase in CA 125, including normal conditions, such as menstruation, and noncancerous conditions, such as uterine fibroids. Certain cancers may also cause an increased level of CA 125, including ovarian, endometrial, peritoneal and fallopian tube cancers.

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body.

Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body.

Many different chemotherapy drugs are available. Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or in combination to treat a wide variety of cancers.

Though chemotherapy is an effective way to treat many types of cancer, chemotherapy treatment also carries a risk of side effects. Some chemotherapy side effects are mild and treatable, while others can cause serious complications.

Chemotherapy for breast cancer uses powerful drugs to target and destroy breast cancer cells. Chemotherapy for breast cancer frequently is used with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation or hormonal therapy. Combining chemotherapy for breast cancer with other treatments may increase the chance of a cure or decrease the risk of the cancer returning.

If the cancer has recurred or spread, chemotherapy for breast cancer may control the cancer to help you live longer. Or it can help ease symptoms the cancer is causing.

But chemotherapy for breast cancer also carries a risk of side effects — some temporary and mild, others more serious or permanent. Your doctor can help you decide whether chemotherapy for breast cancer is a good choice for you.

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer freezes prostate tissue, causing cancer cells to die. As a minimally invasive procedure, cryotherapy for prostate cancer is sometimes used as an alternative to surgical removal of the prostate gland (prostatectomy).

In the past, cryotherapy for prostate cancer was associated with significantly higher levels of long-term side effects than were other prostate cancer treatments. Advances in the technology of cryotherapy for prostate cancer have reduced these side effects. Most men, however, still experience long-term sexual dysfunction following cryotherapy for prostate cancer.

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer is most often used in men who have early-stage prostate cancer. But cryotherapy for prostate cancer may also be a treatment option in some men whose prostate cancer has returned following other treatments.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer is a treatment for breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones. The most common forms of hormone therapy for breast cancer work by blocking hormones from attaching to cancer cells or by decreasing your body's production of hormones.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer is often used after surgery to reduce the risk that the cancer will return. Hormone therapy for breast cancer may also be used to shrink a tumor before an operation, making it more likely the cancer will be removed completely.

If your cancer has spread to other parts of your body, hormone therapy for breast cancer may help control it.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer is treatment to stop the male hormone testosterone from reaching the prostate cancer cells in your body. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer is also called androgen deprivation therapy.

Most prostate cancer cells rely on testosterone to help them grow. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer cuts off the supply of testosterone or stops testosterone from reaching the cancer cells, causing cancer cells to die or to grow more slowly.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may involve medications, or it can involve surgery to remove the testicles.