Cancer treatment is sometimes complicated due to the fact that cancer cells can spread all over the body and attack more than one area. Sometimes this happens microscopically and can’t be detected early. Plus, some forms of cancer treatment also have risks. For example, chemotherapy makes people sick at times and radiation therapy can burn healthy tissue. Plus, some people can’t tolerate surgery or have other complications such as blood clots or other issues.
Surgery as a cancer treatment
Some forms of tumours can be cured using surgery as a cancer treatment if the tumor and all the cancer cells can be removed successfully. However, in some cases it has already spread microscopically and cells have invaded other areas of the body. This is called metastasizing. In cancer surgery, either the tumor or some surrounding tissue is removed or in some cases the entire organ. For example, in lung tumours sometimes the surgeon must removed an entire lung. Surgery may still be mixed with chemotherapy or radiation.
Radiation as a cancer treatment
Cancer treatment using radiation involves using ionizing radiation to kill the tumour cells and try to shrink tumors. This is done either externally or internally and is localized to the cancerous area. Radiation damages the tumour cells or kills them and they can no longer divide and grow. The idea is to kill or damage as much of the tumour cells as possible, but not hurt healthy cells.
Radiation as a cancer treatment is used on most kinds of solid tumors, and is also usable on leukemia (blood cancer) and lymphoma cancers. The dose of radiation depends on the type of cancer and how sensitive it is to this form of therapy. It can have side effects such as damage to nearby organs or tissue.
Chemotherapy as a cancer treatment
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment with medications to kill the cancer cells. Drugs called cytotoxic medication are used, which can kill tumours or other rapidly crowing types of cells. Most chemotherapy targets all of these kind of cells and may accidently harm healthy cells. This is a possible side effect. However, most regular cells are able to heal, while the tumour cells usually can’t.
Usually chemotherapy forms of cancer treatment involve two or more of these drugs being given together to fight the tumours to give better chances of success. Some types of cancer treatment use very high doses of these drugs such as leukemia and it ends up destroying the patient’s bone marrow and so they need a bone marrow transplant as well.
Targeted cancer treatment therapies
Some types of tumours now can be treated with a specialized cancer treatment that targets the specific cancer causing cells. They work to kill the cells causing the cancer. One of these is monoclonal antibody therapy. This involves cancer treatment in which an antibody binds itself to the protein in a cancer cell and kills it. Other types of targeted cancer treatments exist such as photodynamic therapy that uses laser light to kill cancer cells.
Immunotherapy cancer treatment options
Cancer treatment through immunotherapy is when the treatment assists the person’s own immune system in fighting the cancer. These use things like vaccines, interferons, cytokines, stem cell transplants, bone marrow transplants, etc. It is usually given along with radiation therapies.
Other cancer treatments
Some other forms of cancer treatment involve things like blocking the hormones that make the tumors grow (as in breast and prostate cancers), as well as experimental trials in things like ultrasound, and forms of alternative holistic treatments.