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Therapy (often abbreviated tx or Tx) is the attempted remediation of a health problem, usually following a diagnosis. In the medical field, it is synonymous with treatment (also abbreviated tx). Among psychologists and other mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and clinical social workers, the term may refer specifically to psychotherapy or talking therapies. The English word therapy comes via Latin therapīa from Greek: θεραπεία and literally means "curing" or "healing".
Treatments can be classified according to the method of treatment:
Treatment decisions often follow formal or informal algorithmic guidelines. Treatment options can often be ranked or prioritized into lines of therapy: first-line therapy, second-line therapy, third-line therapy, and so on. First-line therapy (sometimes called induction therapy, primary therapy, or front-line therapy) is the first therapy that will be tried. Its priority over other options is usually either (1) formally recommended on the basis of clinical trial evidence for its best-available combination of efficacy, safety, and tolerability or (2) chosen based on the clinical experience of the physician. If a first-line therapy either fails to resolve the issue or produces intolerable side effects, additional (second-line) therapies may be substituted or added to the treatment regimen, followed by third-line therapies, and so on.
An example of a context in which the formalization of treatment algorithms and the ranking of lines of therapy is very extensive is chemotherapy regimens. Because of the great difficulty in successfully treating some forms of cancer, one line after another may be tried. In oncology the count of therapy lines may reach 10 or even 20.
Often multiple therapies may be tried simultaneously (combination therapy or polytherapy). Thus combination chemotherapy is also called polychemotherapy, whereas chemotherapy with one agent at a time is called single-agent therapy or monotherapy.
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