Many things go through a person’s mind when they need medical treatment. They wonder what the side effects might be, and what they should bring to the hospital for a comfortable stay. Cancer seems to be something that only happens to other people until it becomes a reality for us. And when it does, we want to know everything we can about the disease and how to fight it.
In this article, we’ll discuss some vital facts about cancer treatment methods that everyone should be aware of.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease that’s caused by abnormal cell growth, and these changes can be inherited from our parents or they can happen during our lifetime. They can be a result of errors that occur as our normal cells divide or because of damage to our DNA caused by certain environmental exposures. There are more than 100 types of cancer. Examples include breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. The symptoms of cancer can vary depending on what part of the body is affected. Common signs include:
- Fatigue and loss of appetite
- Weight loss and pain
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- A persistent cough or trouble breathing
- Skin changes
Cancer is diagnosed by a variety of methods, including physical exams, blood tests, imaging tests (such as X-rays), and biopsies (removing tissue to examine it under a microscope).
This is a highly common treatment for cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissue. Surgery may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Side effects may include pain, swelling, and scarring.
If you need surgery it’s worth reading specialist blogs and websites about your particular condition. People who need breast cancer surgery can discover what it is, what are the different types, and what are the symptoms and risk factors. They can also learn about breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.
This uses high-energy waves to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. It’s sometimes used as the only cancer treatment but is more often combined with surgery, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. Here are some examples:
- External beam radiation comes from a machine outside of your body.
- Internal radiation, also called brachytherapy, involves placing radioactive material directly into or near the cancer. There are two types: temporary and permanent. The number of treatments depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
- Systemic radiation therapy uses drugs or other substances to carry radioactive material throughout the body.
- Targeted radiation therapy uses drugs that contain radioactive material to target cancer cells (or other abnormal cells) without harming the healthy cells. These drugs attach to specific molecules in the cells and kill them or stop them from growing.
These drugs can be taken orally in pill form or injected intravenously. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as radiation therapy and surgery. Side effects may include hair loss, mouth sores, fatigue, and nausea.
Chemotherapy may be given with curative intent or it may aim to prolong life or to palliate symptoms without attempting to cure the cancer.
Targeted Therapy Drugs
Targeted therapy drugs are man-made versions of substances that occur naturally in the body. They work by targeting specific molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Some targeted therapy drugs work by killing cancer cells whilst others stop them from growing or spreading – and some do both. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, they don’t usually cause severe side effects.
The immune system is made up of special cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection and disease. Immunotherapy uses the person’s immune system to battle cancer. It can be administered as a drug or as a vaccine, and it may be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Side effects may include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and nausea.
Cancer cells can sometimes avoid being detected and destroyed by the immune system. Immunotherapy works by helping the immune system recognize and destroy the cancer cells. There are several types of treatment, including monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors, cancer vaccines, and adoptive cell transfer therapy. Each type works differently, and not all types are available for every kind of cancer.
Hormones are substances that regulate the function of certain cells or organs, and some cancers need them in order to grow. Hormone therapy uses drugs to change the levels of hormones in the body or to stop hormone production altogether. For instance, breast cancer and prostate cancer often require hormones — estrogen and testosterone, respectively — to grow. Hormone therapy can be used to treat these cancers by either lowering the number of hormones in the body or stopping their production completely.
Hormone therapy can be administered as a pill, injection, or implant and it may be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Side effects may include hot flashes, weight gain, and fatigue.
Clinical trials are practical research studies that test new ways to treat cancer. They often test new drugs or other treatments on people with cancer. Researchers also use these trials to look for better ways to screen for and diagnose cancer. Additionally, scientists use them to find out how best to prevent cancer from developing or returning.
Cancer clinical trials are overseen by a group of independent experts called an institutional review board (IRB). The IRB makes sure that the rights and safety of the people taking part in the trial are protected. If you’re thinking about taking part in a clinical trial, talk with your doctor first to find out if it would be right for you.
You may also wish to research natural treatment methods and palliative care, as well as your insurance coverage and the potential costs. Have a full discussion with your medical professional before agreeing to any treatment. By acting wisely during this difficult season, you’ll experience the best possible outcome for your condition.