Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world, with more than 19 million diagnoses and 10 million deaths in 2020 alone. It’s thought that approximately one in two people will develop cancer at some stage in their life, meaning there’s a high chance almost everyone on Earth will have to either come to terms with a diagnosis or support someone with a diagnosis within their lifetime. Despite its prominence, not many people know a lot about cancer treatment and that Cancer Can be Treated beyond chemotherapy, and even then, the knowledge is somewhat limited. Rather than keeping cancer and its treatment as a taboo subject, sharing knowledge and information is key to making it less overwhelming for those going through such a devastating diagnoses.
With this in mind, here’s a list of four ways cancer can be treated, including traditional and more modern technologies.
The first and most common way cancer is treated is through chemotherapy. This is what most people think of when they hear the word ‘cancer’, and they will conjure up images of hair loss and nausea. Whilst it’s true that some people suffer severe side effects from chemotherapy, not everyone does, and it remains an effective treatment for the disease depending on the stage of diagnosis.
Chemotherapy involves taking a cocktail of drugs that attack fast growing cells in the body. It can be delivered either through an IV line or by taking tablets, and is commonly used alongside other types of treatment. The reason chemotherapy is renowned for having bad side effects is because it travels through the whole body and may affect healthy cells, too.
Despite this, it remains a good treatment option for many types of cancer, including breast and lung.
Radiotherapy is another common type of treatment and has long been used to shrink tumors and kill cells in a more localized way to chemotherapy. There are several ways it can be delivered, including through the use of a machine or via an implant.
As technology gets better, radiotherapy can become more specific. For example, proton beam therapy is being more commonly used. It is more precise in its targeting and uses protons instead of the traditional photons, but as will all radiotherapies, the aim remains the same: to shrink or kill the tumor.
Like chemotherapy, radiotherapy is often paired with other types of treatment and incurs less side-effects than most.
Surgery is a good method of treatment depending on where the tumor is located. If it’s in a location like the breast, it may be easier to access and remove, making surgery a great option for removing the bulk of the tumor in one go. Further treatment may be necessary to kill any remaining cells, or treatment may be required beforehand to shrink the tumor before surgery is possible.
The final most common type of cancer treatment is immunotherapy. This is when treatment is administered that encourages your natural immune system to attack and kill cancer cells. Cancer cells generally hide from the immune system by sending signals that confuse it, causing it to ignore them. In some cases, the cancer may be aggressive which means even if the immune system detects the cancer, it will be overwhelmed and unable to fight it.
Immunotherapy works to boost the immune system up, providing a somewhat natural defense that leaves healthy cells unharmed, therefore reducing the risk of side-effects. That being said, during treatment, the immune system might be compromised temporarily.
Hopefully you never have to deal with a cancer diagnosis, but if you do, we hope this information makes it a bit easier to understand the types of treatment.