If you or a loved one if suffering from cancer, it is best to make yourself knowledgeable about the wide array of treatments that are available to cancer patients. Although most people generally associate cancer treatment with chemotherapy, there is a veritable litany of different treatments from which a patient may choose. As usual, it is best to consult with your physician before making any solid decisions, as he or she will know which treatment is best for you. Throughout the course of this brief article, you will be informed about 4 of the most common cancer treatments. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy will be discussed.
Chemotherapy is perhaps the most common form of treatment associated with cancer, and it is by far and wide the most well known treatment. Chemotherapy is a form of therapy in which drugs are used to kill the cancerous cells. These drugs are generally taken in the form of a pill or through intravenous injection. Chemo drugs will then travel through the blood stream, reaching the site of the cancerous mass, usually a tumor. The drugs will then act to kill the cancerous mass. Although occasionally a singular drug is used to treat cancer during chemotherapy, doctors will often prescribe several drugs to be taken in order to insure the death of cancerous cells.
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy beams, such as x-rays, to shrink a tumor and kill off cancerous cells that have invaded the body. The source of the radiation may come from outside of the body, such as is the case through x-rays, or in some cases, an implant will be placed inside of offending tumor, which will kill it from the inside. The process of taking radioactive materials into the body is itself painless, but it can lead to a laundry list of side effects. First and foremost, radiation therapy can serve to damage healthy tissues and organs. This is why radiation therapy is usually used in tandem with chemotherapy if the results of chemotherapy are less than satisfactory.
Immunotherapy usually manifests itself in two ways: by kick starting your own immune system into overdrive in order to fight off cancerous cells and tumors or by boosting your immune system by pumping man made immune system proteins into your body. Generally speaking, most forms of immunotherapy are used in conjunction with other forms of cancer treatment, as immunotherapy has proven to be largely ineffective when used as a solitary treatment. Immunotherapy may bolster the entirety of the immune system in some cases, while in others, it will serve to drive the immune system to specifically fight cancerous cells and tumors.
Although technically a form of chemotherapy, targeted therapy diverges from standard chemotherapy in a number of ways. While standard chemotherapy is basically a series of drugs used to fight cancerous cells, targeted therapy utilizes specific drugs that have been specifically developed to fight certain strains of cancer cells. The problem with this form of therapy is that it is very specific. There are some strains of cancer cells for which targeted therapy has not been developed, and in these cases, standard chemotherapy must be used. It is also significantly more expensive than standard chemotherapy, although the success rate for the strains of cancer it attacks is very high.
Cancer treatment need not be the horror you imagined. It is best to be kept abreast of the types of treatments that you or a loved one can receive, their success rates, and any sort of side effects that they may bring to the table. For more information, contact a local cancer treatment center.