Treating The Big C: Cancer
What can be more frightening than going inside a doctor's room and finding out you have cancer? Cancer comes in many forms - cancer of the brain, liver, pancreas, even nose! - but it boils down to one thing: it is life-threatening. Unless the patient subjects himself to the proper treatment, chances for survival are close to nil.
1. One of the procedures in treating cancer is called chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is using cytotoxic (or anti-cancer) drugs to kill cancer cells like leukemia and lymphoma. With 50 types of chemotherapy drugs, some of them combined together, this type of cancer treatment actually relies on some factors. These factors are cancer type, what part of the body did it come from, how do the cancer cells appear under the microscope and how they spread to the other body parts.
How does chemotherapy works?
A patient should keep in mind that the chemotherapy drugs can halt the division and multiplication of cancer cells. As these drugs are being carried in the bloodstream, they target the cancer cells as well as the healthy cells. Healthy cells can also help to undo the damage caused by cancer cells. But unluckily, chemotherapy drugs can cause side effects to the healthy cells. Certain healthy cells in the mouth's lining, bone marrow, hair follicles and digestive system are particularly sensitive to chemotherapy drugs.
It is not that easy to administer chemotherapy. Planning is critical as it is given in sessions of treatment. There must be a rest period in between sessions. This session and rest period is called cycle whereas the series of cycles are referred as course of treatment.
Chemotherapy is used to destroy the cancer cells and eventually cure the disease, keep the cancer from coming back, obliterate the symptoms and prolong the life of the patient. Palliative chemotherapy is given if cure is no longer possible.
It can be employed before or after the operation and during the radiotherapy (chemoirradation or chemoradiotherapy). High-dose chemotherapy calls for stem cell support or even a bone marrow transplant.
Some of these chemotherapy drugs are the following: altretamine,bleomycin, capecitabine, cytarabine, fludarabine, melphalan and mercaptopurine.
2. Another form of treatment is radiotherapy.
This is when x-rays and other rays of the same kind (like electrons) are used to treat cancer.
There are two kinds of radiotherapy: external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy.
How does it work? Radiotherapy also destroys cancer cells in a certain area. Normal cells are sometimes affected, even damaged, but they have the ability to repair themselves.
If radiotherapy's purpose is to cure the cancer by annihilating the tumor, it is called radical radiotherapy. But if it is given before or after chemotherapy or surgery, it is called chemoradiotherapy.
Here are some of the inevitable side effects of radiotherapy: fatigue, blood changes and skin blemishes.
3. There are more cancer treatments. They are the following:
a. Photodynamic therapy
b. Biological therapy
c. Supportive therapy
d. Complementary therapy
e. Hormonal treatment
Some of the drugs under this category are Arimidex, Casodex, Decapeptyl, Drogenil, Fareston, Faslodex, Prostat, Provera, Stilboestrol and Zoladex.
This is when a body tissue is cut using surgical knives of high-energy lasers. Cryotherapy is a type of surgery where freezing probe is used.
Cancer treatment varies and it is up to the doctor what he will employ to make the patient feel better and to totally kill the cancer.