Asking the question, what is the most effective way to treat cancer, is like asking what the best food for losing weight or the best song for dancing is. It all depends on who is asking the question and which cancer we are talking about. Even for easy-to-treat cancers, there is no cut and dried path to treatment. What we can determine is which treatment might be the most effective for an individual with a specific kind of cancer.

According to The National Cancer Institute, treatment falls into eight medical categories. Complementary therapies like exercise, diet, or acupuncture may be helpful for some people, but they usually accompany traditional medical treatment rather than replacing it. Medical therapies include the following, from the newest to the oldest:

1. Precision medicine
Researchers who study precision medicine look at the effect of lifestyle, environment, and genes on health. Although the name is new, the technology is not. Doctors, for instance, have used this approach for years when they matched a blood donor to the patient who needed blood.

2. Stem cell transplants
Doctors use stem cell transplants to regenerate a healthy blood supply in patients whose blood cells were destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation.

3. Hormone therapy
Hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, is a treatment used to stop the spread of cancers fueled by hormones.

4. Targeted therapy
Targeted therapies use drugs to turn off specific molecules and stop the growth of cancer while chemotherapy kills both healthy and cancerous cells.

5. Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy, attempts to fight cancer and stop it from spreading by strengthening the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy, or chemo, is technically the use of any medication to fight any disease, but most people associate it with cancer. Chemo kills cells in a specific area of the body, but it can also kill cancer cells that have spread throughout the body.

7. Radiation
Radiation, or radiotherapy, uses strong doses of radiation to reduce the size of tumors and kill cancer cells. The same kind of radiation is used in smaller doses to x-ray bones.

8. Surgery
Surgery is used to remove a major portion of a cancerous tumor. Among the different types of cancer surgery are curative, preventive, restorative, diagnostic, debulking, and palliative.

What is the most effective way to treat cancer? The most effective treatment is usually a combination of therapies, and no two patients are the same. Every treatment plan must be carefully chosen on an individual basis.