Cancer is a condition where cells in a part of the body grow and reproduce at an uncontrollable rate. The cancerous cells can then invade and destroy the surrounding healthy tissue and potentially damage your vital organs. Cancer often begins in one part of the body before spreading rapidly to other areas of the body. There are many different types of cancer found in different parts of the body. The most common forms of cancer in the USA today include Lung Cancer, Pancreatic, Breast (male and female), Colon and Rectal, Bladder, Prostate, Leukemia and Endometrial.
There are certainly green shoots of optimism when it comes to new research and treatments that come out to fight cancer year after year, and the death rate from cancer in the USA has continued to decline. From 1991 to 2018, the cancer death rate fell by 31%.
Finding out that you have got cancer is overwhelming news that can take a while for you to process and take in fully, whatever the stage of the illness the doctors say you have and irrespective of your age. The ideal treatment that is most suitable for your cancer will depend on the type of cancer you have, where it is located in the body, and your prognosis. Early detection of cancer can save your life by providing you with early treatment and the opportunity to have your cancer treatment done while you are still in a healthy state. The earlier a cancer is detected, the more likely it can be cured. A comprehensive primary care physician can provide you with screening tests and treatments for cancer. These physicians typically have a vast knowledge base in the field of cancer investigation and treatment, as well as experience managing patients with various types of cancers. Trust in what the experts and the specialist oncology doctors tell you, and don’t rely on all the hearsay and unverified pieces of information on cancer and cancer treatment that you read.
We have come up with a guide to summarize the various different cancer treatment options available in 2021 and beyond.
Most Common Forms of Cancer Treatment
The most common forms of treatment for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, there is a wide range of other alternative options for cancer treatments available to cancer patients today.
Surgery is a common treatment that can deal with many different types of cancer. The aim of surgical procedures for treating cancer is to remove as much of the cancerous tumor as possible, as well as some of the nearby surrounding tissue.
Chemotherapy works by circulating drugs through the patient’s bloodstream, this means that chemotherapy can be used to kill cancer cells that are currently in the process of growing and splitting into 2 new cells. Chemotherapy can potentially be used to treat cancer cells located anywhere in the body. Drugs in chemotherapy can either be administered to the patient by mouth or into the blood vessels by an intravenous (IV) drip.
Radiation therapy uses x-rays, particles, or radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells in the body. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by preventing them growing and dividing at a rapid rate. When cancer cells are no longer able to grow and divide, the cells die.
External beam radiation is where x-rays and particles are targeted at the cancerous tumor from outside the body.
Internal beam radiation is where radiation is delivered inside your body to fight cancer through radioactive seeds placed into or near the tumor, a pill or liquid that you swallow, or directly into your veins through an IV drip.
Other Cancer Treatment Options
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that is based on your body’s immune system and its ability to fight off infections. Immunotherapy helps your immune system to work harder and in a more targeted way to fight cancer and get rid of cancer cells.
The drugs used in immunotherapy to treat breast cancer trigger your immune system into finding and destroying cancer cells in your breast tissue. To find out more about immunotherapy for breast cancer and the importance of Mammogram screenings for preventing and treating breast cancer, you may want to take a look at the Ezra blogpost article: What is immunotherapy for breast cancer?
Bone Marrow Transplants
Bone marrow transplants (or ‘stem cell transplants’) are used to help cancer patients who are no longer able to produce healthy blood cells. Bone marrow transplant procedures can use your own bone marrow stem cells or those from a donor. They can also be used to replace damaged bone marrow.
A bone marrow transplant is a serious medical procedure that comes with significant risks that shouldn’t be taken likely, and some serious complications of bone marrow transplants can even be life-threatening. Bone marrow transplants are also very expensive procedures, and it can be difficult to find a bone marrow donor that your body will successfully react to. They are often used to treat leukaemia.
The way that stem cells are administered into your body’s bloodstream through a central venous catheter tube and into your bone marrow in bone marrow transplants is similar to the process of having a blood transfusion.
Targeted Drug Therapies
Targeted drug therapies target specific irregularities and abnormalities in growing cancer cells.
Types of cancer such as breast cancer and prostate cancer are caused by the hormones in your body. In hormone therapy, hormones from the body can be removed to stop cancer cells from growing.
This is a new form of cancer treatment that kills cancer cells using colder temperatures. A thin needle (known as a cryoprobe) is inserted into the patient’s skin and into the cancerous tumor, a gas is then pumped into the cryoprobe to freeze the tissue. Freezing and thawing the tumor and the tissue around it kills the cancer cells.
Clinical trials help doctors to investigate new and better ways that we can treat cancer and other diseases in the future. Clinical trials are the final stage of the process before any new cancer treatment can be approved by health services worldwide and released to patients. There are thousands of clinical research trials for cancer treatments that take place every year. Taking part in clinical trials inevitably comes with a degree of risk for participants, as the new treatment hasn’t been widely tested on the public and could cause serious side effects. New cancer treatments tested during clinical trials may not work and be successful at fighting cancer at all, or they may not be any more effective than the current standard cancer treatments currently out there.
Tailor-Made Personalized Cancer Vaccines
Each genetic mutation which transforms normal healthy cells into cancerous cells can be vastly different in each individual tumor. The German biotechnology company BioNTech is currently doing extensive research and trials to look into creating vaccine therapies that are designed to treat each individual cancerous tumor and its unique traits. Personalized cancer vaccines will mean that each individual cancer patient receiving treatment will be able to get a tailor-made vaccine that has been especially made for them, according to their individual genetic makeup. Personalized vaccines that fight breast and pancreatic cancer are made using DNA. Some in the medical world believe that personalized vaccines will be the future of cancer treatments.
There is some positive data out there relating to using epigenetic therapies as a way of treating cancer in the future. Epigenetic therapies seek to return cancer cells to normal healthy cells by normalizing DNA methylation patterns, as opposed to killing and destroying cancer cells like radiation and chemotherapy do.
Cancer treatments are developing further and further every year, and hopefully thanks to the advances in science it will become much easier to effectively treat and remove all different types of cancers in the future.