Today, Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally with an estimation of about 9.6 million deaths in the year 2018 and it is increasing rapidly.
Due to advancements in the field of medicine, the treatment for cancer is also being developed continually. Now, more targeted and effective treatments are available. With such advancements, the outcomes have also improved.
There are various types of Cancer therapies available. The type of treatment directly depends upon the type of cancer and its advancement as the cancer treatment is a personalized treatment and so it can vary for every individual.
Surgical treatment (Surgery)
In this procedure, a surgeon or Surgical oncologist removes the tumor and nearby tissues from the body during an operation. This is the oldest type of cancer treatment and is still effective for many types of cancer. There are many reasons to undergo surgical treatment during cancer, such as for cancer diagnosis, staging, removal, debulking, palliation, reconstruction, and prevention. Today, there are minimally invasive procedures and surgeries including Laparoscopic surgery, Laparoscopic surgery, Cryosurgery, Endoscopy, etc.
Radiation Therapy (or Radiotherapy)
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer by killing the cancer cells and shrinking the tumors in the body. At high doses of radiation, the DNA of the cancer cells damages resulting in either the death of the cancer cells as the DNA damages beyond repair or slow in the growth rate. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is damaged enough for cancer cells to die. Even after the end of radiation therapy, the cancer cells keep on dying for weeks or months. It can be given both externally (aims radiation at the affected area through the machine) and internally (works by injecting radioactive the material- solid or liquid, in the body). Radiotherapy is applied for either curative treatment, or for palliative treatment.
It uses certain drugs to kill cancer cells or to stop them from dividing and spreading to the other parts of the body. It is one of the most common treatments for cancer which cures cancer or eases its symptoms. For some individuals, it may be the only treatment they receive, but mostly Chemo is applied along with other treatments. If it is applied before the other treatment to lessen the tumor size, it is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy and if used after other treatments to destroy any remaining cancer cells, it is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
It is the foundation of precision medicine. In targeted Cancer therapies, the specific proteins and genes responsible for the growth, division, and spread of the cancer cells are targeted or blocked. It works against cancer in many different ways such as:
- Helping the immune system to destroy cancer cells by providing a marker,
- Stop cancer cells from dividing by interfering with the signal proteins,
- Stop signals that help form blood vessels (angiogenesis) by providing angiogenesis inhibitors,
- Deliver toxins, chemo drugs or radioactive materials to cancer cells using monoclonal antibodies,
- Cause necrosis of the cancer cells.
Hormonal Therapy (Hormone Treatment or Endocrine Therapy)
It is a type of Targeted Cancer therapy. It is used to treat those cancers that use hormones to grow such as Prostrate Cancer, Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, etc., by blocking or lowering the number of responsible hormones in the body to slow or cease the growth of cancer cells. Hormone Therapy can be given orally (as pills or medicine), through injection (given by a shot in a muscle or skin), or surgically (to remove organs that produce hormones).
Immunotherapy (or Biological Therapy)
It helps the immune system to fight against cancer using biological substances by restoring and improving the function of the immune system. There are several types of immunotherapy, including monoclonal antibodies, Cancer vaccines, Non-specific immunotherapies, T-cell therapy, and Oncolytic virus therapy. Certain immunotherapies can mark cancer cells making it easier for the immune system to find and destroy them. Other immunotherapies boost the immune system to work better against cancer.
Transplantation (Bone marrow Transplant or Stem Cell Transplant)
It restores the blood-forming stem cells (WBCs, RBCs and, platelets) as in the case of leukaemia, multiple myeloma, or some types of lymphoma. It is also useful in blood diseases. In this procedure, healthy stem cells are injected in the vein to enter the bloodstream and travel to the bone marrow to restore the blood cells. The stem cells that are used in transplants can be taken from bone marrow, bloodstream, or umbilical cord.