Cancer Treatments Options

Whenever one hears about ‘Cancer Treatments’ they immediately think of the words: ‘chemotherapy’ and ‘radiation’. It is unknown to most how a cancer patient’s treatment is specifically determined. Patients do not know when will one receive chemotherapy or radiation treatments (or maybe both) and when one will undergo surgery or maybe none of the above as they will be introduced to additional treatment options.

Firstly, it should be known that each cancer patient receives a personal tailored treatment plan, according to his or her cancerous tumor. When an oncologist approaches a patient in order to start planning his treatment regime we will look in to a few different factors including the location of the cancer, the stage of the cancer, has it spread to other organs, the size of the growth and the specific type of the disease. In some cases the oncologist may also take into consideration the age and general health of the patient and in women, the doctor can take into consideration future procreation preferences. Once all this is known, the oncologist will design a treatment plan designated for the patient.

Surgery is one main option for cancer removal, depending on the tumor of course. Not every cancer is operable as it depends on the stage, size and location of the growth. If the cancerous cells are accessible and the tumor is still in its early stages, then the surgeon will prefer to try and remove the whole tumor at once, pending on the fact that the cancer hasn’t spread. Sometimes, if the infected organ is not vital to the patient’s life (a kidney or the uterus for example) then it is possible the surgeon will want to remove the whole organ that contains the cancer. Sometimes there can be a partial removal of organs with the cancerous cells.

A surgery can be accompanied by additional treatments and may not be enough by itself. These additional treatments can include chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to try and kill the cancerous cells in the patient’s body. The drugs are usually given in cycles that are supposed to maximize its affect which is to stop or slow down the growth of the cancer cells in the body. The specific type of chemo drugs is decided based on the type of cancer, whether you’ve gone through chemotherapy before and other health problems you might have. As stated above, chemotherapy can be the only cancer treatment; however, it will usually be given along with surgery, radiation therapy, or biological therapy.

Radiation therapy describes the use of high-energy radiation (x-rays or gamma rays) to shrink tumors and destroy cancerous cells. The radiation destroys the cell’s DNA and cells with damaged DNA stop dividing or die. The rays are delivers by an external machine or from a radioactive device temporarily placed within the patient’s body. As with chemotherapy, radiation is often given along with other types of treatments.

Beyond these three most common treatments, there are additional types of cancer treatments. Biological therapy, similar to chemotherapy, fights cancer with the use of drugs. However, biotherapy works with the immune system and helps the immune system cells fight cancer while chemotherapy directly attacks the cancerous cells. Thyroid cancer is treated sometimes with the use of radioactive Iodine I-131 which is absorbed into the bloodstream with the intention to begin destroying the gland’s cells and there are also hormonal treatments that are supposed to balance hormones that encourage the growth of cancerous cells in the body

As a final counter measure, cancer patients should always inquire about experimental treatments and try to get in to clinical trials designated for cancer patients.

By Suzana