When initially diagnosed with cancer, a cancer specialist, an oncologist, will provide the cancer treatment options depending upon the type of cancer, how far it has spread, and other important factors like age and general condition of health.
The following Methods of Treatment for Cancer are presently available:
Surgery: Surgery is done to remove tumors or as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. It is often performed in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
For those whose cancer is not treatable, palliative surgery may be an option to relieve pain that may be caused by the cancer. It is not intended to treat or cure the cancer, but just to lessen discomfort.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to eliminate cancer cells. Unlike surgery, chemotherapy affects the entire body, not just a specific part. It works by targeting rapidly multiplying cancer cells. However, chemotherapy can cause side effects like hair loss and an upset stomach.
Chemotherapy is most commonly given by pill or intravenously (IV), but can be given in other ways. A single type of chemotherapy, or a combination of drugs, may be prescribed for a specific length of time. Like surgery, chemotherapy can be prescribed alone, in conjunction with radiation therapy or biologic therapy.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses certain types of energy to shrink tumors or eliminate cancer cells. It works by damaging a cancer cell’s DNA, making it unable to multiply. Cancer cells are highly sensitive to radiation and typically die when treated.
Radiation therapy may be given alone, along with chemotherapy, and/or with surgery. The decision to combine radiation therapy with other types of treatment depends on the stage of cancer and other factors.
Biologic or Targeted Therapy:
Biologic therapy is a term for drugs that target characteristics of cancerous tumors. Some types of targeted therapies work by blocking the biological processes of tumors that allow tumors to thrive and grow. Other types of therapies cut off the blood supply to the tumor, causing it to basically starve and die because of lack of blood supply.
Targeted therapy is used in select types of cancer and is given in conjunction with other cancer treatments.
Cancer immunotherapy refers to a diverse set of therapeutic strategies designed to induce the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumor. Contemporary methods for generating an immune response against tumours include intravesical BCGimmunotherapy for superficial bladder cancer, and use of interferons and other cytokines to induce an immune response in renal cell carcinoma and melanoma patients.
Growth of some cancers can be inhibited by providing or blocking certain hormones. Common examples of hormone-sensitive tumors include certain types of breast and prostate cancers. Removing or blocking estrogen or testosterone is often an important additional treatment. In certain cancers, administration of hormone agonists, such as progestogens may be therapeutically beneficial.