- Cancer treatment
- Oncological Surgery
Current Cancer Treatments Overview
Current cancer treatments are a big and sensitive subject. Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases of all times. It affects millions and millions of people all over the world. For the past few years, cancer has been one of the most feared health disorders because of the increasing number of deaths that it causes. To date the scientists have struggled to find a cure for cancer. They have been conducting numerous clinical researches and studies. Although no cure exists yet, some of the findings lead to significant improvements in treating this vicious, life-threatening disease.
Since cancer can affect any organ of the body, it would seem to make sense that cancer treatments should also be specific to affected region of the body. However, there is a big debate on the subject of regional cancer treatments, as cancer is a systemic disease. Although regional cancer treatments are designed to provide utmost effectiveness (efficacy), they are usually more expensive to administer.
Here are the main types of current cancer treatments that are available to oncological patients.
As one of the most common and desirable cancer treatments, oncological surgery allows to remove the tumor from the body. This is possible when the tumor is resectable or operable. Oncological surgery usually requires urgency to avoid letting the cancer to grow and spread, and become unresecatble or inoperable. Usually, as with any other surgery, there is a need for the use of anaesthetic agents to prepare patient for oncological surgery. However, in some cases, local anaesthesia is sufficient, especially when the tumor is small or is in the easy to reach area of the body.
Most surgeries involve the use of scalpels and surgical blades, but there are new types of surgeries that do not involve traditional metal blades, like the cryosurgery and laser surgery.
This procedure of oncological cryosurgery involves the use of liquid nitrogen or argon, which produce extreme cold that has damaging effect on the tumor.
Oncological Laser Surgery
To conduct oncological laser surgery, surgeons use laser beams that are powerful enough to cut through the human tissue and to separate and remove the tumor. Some lasers used in laser surgery can also melt down or shrink the tumors. Thus, laser surgery is gaining its reputation as an effective cancer treatment option.
Oncological Photodynamic Surgery
The term “photo”, in photodynamic surgery, implies the use of light in killing the cancer cells. In this case the use of specific drugs that are reactive to the lights are necessary. Thus, during exposure of the tumor to light, the cancer cells die. This therapy can be useful in the treatment of cancers of the skin and non-small cell lung cancer.
The use of radiation or radioactive substances to damage and destroy tumors constitutes radiation therapy (or irradiation). The use of X-rays is not only intended for diagnostic purposes, but also as a part of treatments of specific illnesses, including cancer. Radiation works by destroying the DNAs of the cells. Unfortunately the healthy cells suffer damage as well as the cancer cells. Furthermore, cancer cells can protect themselves better because of their capability to regenerate faster than the normal cells. Because of that, new and current methods of radiation therapy allow for more precision in targeting areas of the body affected by cancer and in focusing mostly on the tumor.
The most dreaded and probably the most common form of current cancer treatment is systemic chemotherapy. This is one of the most accessible cancer treatments since most hospitals with oncology departments can offer chemotherapy procedures. The goal of systemic chemotherapy is to destroy the tumors and to cure the cancer patient. The other goals are to lessen the chances of remission and relapse, and to stop cancer cell growth and multiplication.
Systemic chemotherapy is a process of infusing specific types of cytotoxic drugs into venous blood with the goal to kill the cancer cells. However, systemic chemotherapy can induce heavy side effects, because the drugs remain in the body and can cause damage not only to the tumors, but also to healthy organs and systems.
On the other hand, Regional Chemotherapy (RCT) offers targeted approach to chemotherapy. RCT allows the delivery of the drugs directly to the tumor sites in various parts of the body. Furthermore, after the Regional Chemotherapy treatment the patient’s blood undergoes chemofiltration to clear it from the residual elements of the drugs. As an outcome, this approach helps to decrease toxicity to the body, to minimize side effects and to increase dramatically the concentration of the drags at the tumor sites, where it is critical.
The procedure of hyperthermia is the process of attacking the tumor with high temperature. The temperature of the area of the body with the tumor is increased, therefore, the title hyperthermia. After the heat exposure, the cancer cells can become more susceptible to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation.
A much newer type of cancer treatment, immunotherapy is not as common as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. More and more oncologists resort to the user of immunotherapy in treating cancer patients.
Cancer cells can camouflage themselves and hide in the body so that the immune system cannot detect them. The goal of immunotherapy is to “unmask” cancer cells so immune system can recognize and destroy them. There are various immunotherapies that are currently available to cancer patients.