Whether you’re a patient, a friend, a family member, or an oncologist, the fight against cancer will change your life. It’s natural to feel despair sometimes, but there’s reason to hope. Today’s cancer treatment options are more promising than ever. Learning about them can help you prepare for your fight against cancer.
Cancer Treatment: Knowledge is Power
Every cancer journey is unique. Everyone knows the most common cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, but no single treatment is suitable for every type of cancer. Some types are less likely to metastasize, allowing more time to explore different options. Aggressive cancers, such as triple-negative tumors, need equally aggressive treatments.
Surgery is usually a significant part of cancer therapy. Removing the cancerous tissue is an essential first step in treatment. A patient may need a single surgery or multiple surgeries over time. Surgery is usually combined with chemotherapy and sometimes radiation, too.
This cancer treatment has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. It can help slow the growth and spread of cancer or even stop it completely. It’s often used in combination with surgery to eliminate cancer cells spreading into other areas of the body.
The body is constantly fighting cancer cells during the normal process of cellular replication. A healthy immune system will destroy cancer cells before they become a problem. In cancer patients, the immune system is unable to do this. Instead, the cancer cells begin replicating to the point that they spread and disrupt other areas and functions of the body.
This is where chemotherapy drugs intervene. Targeting cells at certain phases of the replication cycle can attack and stop these replicating cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also attacks healthy cells. This is why it can cause such terrible side effects.
This is one of the most common types of cancer treatment. It’s been used for over a century, but the methods have improved. The treatment uses high doses of radiation to damage the DNA inside the cancerous cells and prevent them from replicating.
There are external and internal forms of radiation treatment. The external form involves shooting a beam of radiation directly into the cancerous area of the body from the outside. Doctors place a solid or liquid radiation source inside the body near the tumor during internal radiation therapy.
Radiation is often combined with surgery, chemotherapy, and other types of cancer treatment.
Since the immune system already tries its hardest to fight developing cancer cells, immune cells are often found in or near tumors.
There are many types of immunotherapy, and they each harness the immune system differently. The immune system can keep immune responses from becoming too strong and damaging healthy tissues. Certain immunotherapy drugs block this natural ability, allowing the immune system to gain the power to attack the tumor.
Another example is CAR-T cell therapy, which uses the immune cells attempting to fight off the tumor. These cells are the most capable of fighting cancer, yet the patient’s immune system may not be strong enough to produce enough of them. The cells are extracted, replicated in large amounts, and then delivered back into the body. This gives them a better chance of attacking the tumor in more significant numbers.
Stem Cell Transplants
This is technically not a treatment for cancer but rather a form of palliative care. It utilizes the power of stem cells to promote recovery from damage caused by common cancer treatments, such as radiation. Stem cells can become other types of cells, making them a promising option for various regenerative medical treatments.
The stem cells used in the treatment may be extracted from the patient or donated by another party. They are then injected into the bloodstream, where they travel through the body and replace the cells damaged by the treatment.
Targeted Cancer Treatment Therapy
Targeted therapy targets specific proteins that affect the way cancer cells spread. There are currently two approaches, but more treatment options will likely emerge as researchers learn more about cancer. The two approaches are small-molecule drugs, which can target the inside of cells, and monoclonal antibodies. The latter treatment uses man-made proteins to target specific parts of cancer cells. This can stop tumor growth, cause cancer cell death, or help the immune system better recognize cancerous cells.
Nashville Oncology is known for its excellence in oncology practice and exhibiting a delicate atmosphere of trust and concern. We treat a wide range of conditions, ensuring every patient feels cared for and respected. Contact us to learn more or schedule an appointment.