What types of treatments are considered adjuvant therapies?

According to the National Cancer Institute, adjuvant therapy is additional treatment given after the primary cancer treatment concludes.

Adjuvant therapy is used to improve the chances of a cure or decrease the chances of a recurrence. Different types of adjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy or biological therapy. Adjuvant therapy is commonly administered after surgery, even if the whole tumor is removed, in order to try and help prevent recurrence.

Your doctor will determine whether or not adjuvant therapy will be beneficial to your individualized treatment plan. Generally, the type and stage of cancer are taken into consideration, as well as if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, if the cancer is sensitive to hormones, and if there are other specific cell changes that would be sensitive to adjuvant therapy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, adjuvant therapy has been especially beneficial for breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers. If your doctor is considering adjuvant therapy in your treatment plan, it may be helpful to ask about the types of therapy being considered, the side effects of that therapy, and the chances that it would help you stay cancer-free.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

Adjuvant therapy: Treatment to keep cancer from returning – Mayo Clinic


Definition of Adjuvant Therapy – NCI


This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.