Radiation therapy is used in about half of cases. The radiation can be either from internal sources (brachytherapy) or external sources. The radiation is most commonly low energy x-rays for treating skin cancers, while higher energy x-rays are used for cancers within the body. Radiation is typically used in addition to surgery and or chemotherapy. For certain types of cancer, such as early head and neck cancer, it may be used alone. For painful bone metastasis, it has been found to be effective in about 70% of patients.
There are two vaccines currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent specific types of cancer. Vaccines against the hepatitis B virus, which is considered a cause of some liver cancers, and vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 are available. According to the NCI, these viruses are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers. These virus also plays a role in cancers arising in the head and neck, as well as cancers in the anal region, and probably in others. Today, vaccination against HPV is recommended in teenagers and young adults of both sexes. The HPV virus is so common that by the age of 50, half or more people have evidence of being exposed to it. Sipuleucel-T is a new vaccine approved by the FDA to help treat advanced prostate cancer. Although vaccine does not cure prostate cancer, it has been shown to help extend the lifespan of individuals with advanced prostate cancer.
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