Treatment Options for Cancer
The main focus or goal of cancer treatment is to control it, cure it or stop it from progressing to other parts of the body. Depending on the type of tumour, its severity and your medical conditions, there are a number of treatment options available.
While there are long drawn myths about adversities in cancer treatments, technological and research advancements have given birth to fields like integrative oncology, where your treatment doesn’t just focus on the drugs and surgeries, but also balancing the mental and physical well-being.
Where is it done ?
Every cancer treatment is performed with the motive to find a cure, to allow you live a normal life span. If complexities make it hard for a cure, treatments may help to shrink the tumour or slower the rate of metastasis, helping you to stay symptom-free as long as possible. The success of a treatment is usually determined through the 5 – year survival rates which describes the number of patients with cancer alive after five years post diagnosis divided by the percentage of the general population at corresponding age and gender. Higher the 5 – year survival rate of a cancer, the more likely is the treatment’s success.
Cancer treatments may be used for/as:
Primary treatment – The main focus of this treatment is to completely eradicate the tumour cells in the body. For most cancer types, surgery is commonly preferred. If your cancer is responding to radiation therapy or chemotherapy, one of these may be your primary treatment option. If your tumour is complex, a combination of surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be followed.
Palliative treatment – These treatments are focussed to relieve the symptoms caused by the cancer itself. The treatment is used at any stage of the cancer if you face troubling symptoms.
Adjuvant treatment – Adjuvant treatment is used to kill the cancer cells that might remain after the primary treatment. This is to stop the chance of the cancer’s recurrence. Common treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
Neoadjuvant treatment – Sometimes, primary treatment becomes difficult when the size of tumour is too large. In such cases, neoadjuvant treatment is used before the primary treatment to shrink the tumour’s size and make the primary treatment more effective.
How is it done? What are my options?
Continuous research and advancements in the field of Oncology have led us to a number of treatment options. Depending on the type and complexity of your cancer, your health condition and preferences, your doctor may recommend one or more of these.
Cancer surgery is aimed to remove the tumour or as much of the tumour as possible. It is performed by a surgical oncologist.
All about surgery
Usage of drugs to kill the cancer cells. Mostly given intravenously, few chemotherapy drugs can also be taken as pills or capsules.
All about chemotherapy
Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine. This treatment targets the changes or abnormalities in the cancer cells helping them grow, divide and spread.
There are two types of targeted therapy –
Small molecule drugs, usually taken as pills are used to inhibit the process of cancerous cell multiplication. Angiogenesis inhibitors (Angio- blood vessels, genesis – formation, inhibit – prevent) are an example of this type of targeted therapy. While a tumour needs blood vessels to carry nutrients to it, angiogenesis inhibitors prevent the further growth of blood vessels starving the tumour and preventing its growth.
Monoclonal antibodies are proteins designed to attach to targets on cancer cells. Some monoclonal antibodies mark the cancer cells so that they will be seen and eradicated by the immune system, while others prevent the growth of cancer cells.
All about Targeted therapy
Radiation therapy uses high energy beams like the X-rays or protons to kill cancer cells or slow their growth by damaging their DNA. The DNA of the cancer cells, when damaged beyond repair stop dividing and die. External beam radiation therapy can come from a machine that aims the radiation at cancer, and brachytherapy is done by placing a radiation source inside the body, in or near the tumour.
All about radiation therapy
Some cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer are fueled by the body’s hormones. Blocking their effects may slower the growth of the cancer cells. This therapy falls into two broad categories – those that block the growth of these hormones, and those that influence the behaviour of the hormones.
All about hormone therapy
Also called biological therapy, immunotherapy focuses on the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Cancer cells survive unnoticed by the immune system as they are not recognized as foreign bodies, and this therapy helps the immune system notice the cancerous cells and eradicate them.
All about immunotherapy
This treatment focuses on killing the cancer cells through the process of freezing and thawing (warming up). A cryoprobe (a thin needle) is inserted through the skin directly into the tumour. A gas is then pumped up through the cryoprobe to freeze the cancerous tissue. Then the tissue is allowed to warm up. This process of freezing and thawing is repeated numerous times, till the cancer cells are gotten rid of. The method, however, is not routinely used as a cancer treatment modality.
All about Cryoablation
Stem cell transplant
When the blood forming stem cells in a patient gets destroyed due to cancer or the use of high doses of treatment like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant restores the blood forming stem cells. This is a procedure in which the patient receives healthy stem cells to replace the damaged stem cells.
All about bone marrow transplant
A cryoprobe like needle is inserted into the cancerous tissue through an incision. A high frequency energy beam is then passed into it, causing the cancer cells to heat up and die.
All about radiofrequency ablation
While surgery was once the only option for treating cancer, research and advancements today have come up with a variety of options for patients diagnosed with cancer. Finding new and safer ways to cure cancer is undoubtedly one of the top concerns in the field of medicine today.
Clinical trials are research studies conducted with people who volunteer to take part. Participation in clinical trials is an option for many cancer patients to explore the novel procedures & drugs.
The clinical trials or the studies conducted are currently focusing not just on the allopathic treatment methods, but also experimenting on the mental rehab of a patient. There are thousands of such trials underway, and a more efficient and effective treatment option is the prime focus for all the current research undergoing in this discipline of Oncology.
Our approach to treating cancer
The “standard of care” changes the entire perspective of a patient’s journey – from screening, diagnosis to the most suitable treatment option. At Onco.com, our team of cancer experts and oncologists use an innovative and a personalised approach to guide our patients – with cutting-edge techniques and end-to-end care, where the risks are minimised and the quality of life improved.