Cancer Treatments in St. Helena

We build personalized care plans for every patient

The Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center is an inspiring place with highly skilled and trained physicians and clinical team, advanced treatment options, access to clinical trials and a tumor board made up of oncologists from across the nation, combined with integrative therapies. These make our center a place that epitomizes the philosophy of treating the whole person — mind, body and spirit — no matter what kind or stage of cancer. There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you receive will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. When you need treatment for cancer, you have a lot to learn and think about. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused. But, talking with your doctor and learning about the types of treatment you may have can help you feel more in control.

The main types of cancer treatments include:

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is an approach to cancer care that allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease. With precision medicine, information about genetic changes in your tumor can help decide which treatment will work best for you. Even though researchers are making progress every day, the precision medicine approach to cancer treatment is not yet part of routine care for most patients. Many new treatments designed to target a specific change are being tested right now in precision medicine clinical trials.


Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer. For some people, chemotherapy may be the only treatment you receive. But most often, you will have chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depends on the type of cancer you have, if it has spread and where, and if you have other health problems.


Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. These treatments can either help the immune system attack the cancer directly or stimulate the immune system in a more general way.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread. It is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread. As researchers learn more about the cell changes that drive cancer, they are better able to design promising therapies that target these changes or block their effects.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is a treatment that slows or stops the growth of breast and prostate cancers that use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is most often used along with other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depend on the type of cancer, if it has spread and how far, if it uses hormones to grow, and if you have other health problems. When used with other treatments, hormone therapy can make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy; lower the risk that cancer will come back after the main treatment; or destroy cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. At high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body.

Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is damaged enough for cancer cells to die. Then, cancer cells keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy ends.


Surgery, when used to treat cancer, is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body. Many people with cancer are treated with surgery. Surgery works best for solid tumors that are contained in one area. It is a local treatment, meaning that it treats only the part of your body with the cancer. It is not used for leukemia (a type of blood cancer) or for cancers that have spread. Surgery can be used to remove an entire tumor, debulk a tumor or ease cancer symptoms.

The conditions and treatment section features content from the National Cancer Institute website.