What Are the Most Common Treatment Options For Cancer?

Posted by on April 21, 2021 in Health with 0 Comments

In years past, many patients would view a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence of sorts. While there is still no known cure for cancer, it’s clear that treatment options have improved by leaps and bounds.

Today, thanks to developments in modern medicine and technology, the cancer death rate has declined in consecutive years and oncologists are able to recommend many different types of treatment on a case-by-case basis.

Whether you or a loved one has recently received a cancer diagnosis or whether you’re looking to learn more about how cancer is typically treated, here are some of the most common treatment options that are offered today.

1. Surgery

When you think of different types of cancer treatment, surgery is likely one of the first options to spring to mind.

Surgery is the most common primary cancer treatment, and in many cases, the goal of surgery is to completely remove cancer from the cancer site.

If cancer has spread by the time of surgery, however, debulking is often the goal—the reduction of as much of the tumor as possible without complete eradication.

Although there are risks and complications associated with debulking, this type of surgery can be an effective type of treatment.

2. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, another method sometimes offered as a primary cancer treatment, relies on the use of powerful drugs to either destroy cancer cells or stop cancer growth in its tracks.

Because these potent drugs attack rapidly dividing cancer cells, they are also known to harm healthy cells in the process.

This can cause painful or uncomfortable side effects that people often associate with chemotherapy, such as fatigue, infections, bleeding, bruising, hair loss, loss of appetite, and others. Nausea and vomiting are perhaps the most common side effects, as it is estimated that they occur in up to 80% of chemotherapy patients.

Chemotherapy can be administered in a few different ways—namely, through an IV, pill, injection, or cream.

3. Radiation Therapy

A third method that is sometimes offered as primary cancer treatment is radiation therapy. More than half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy as a least a part of their cancer treatment.

With this particular type of treatment, high-powered energy beams—such as protons, x-rays, or other types of energy—are harnessed and focused in specific areas to destroy cancer cells.

In most scenarios, these beams come from an external machine, but they can also come from radioactive materials that are placed inside the body and near the site of a tumor.

4. Immunotherapy

Your body’s immune system is a powerful tool that exists to fight off sickness and disease. The problem is, cancer cells are often able to live and thrive within the body when the immune system doesn’t recognize them as being abnormal or problematic.

Through immunotherapy, various types of immune cells are trained to recognize cancer cells as intrusive so that they will begin to identify, attack, and destroy cancer cells, specifically.

Immunotherapy is most often administered via drugs or by modifying a certain number of the patient’s immune cells and returning them to the body.

While immunotherapy is considered to be a fairly recent breakthrough in cancer treatment, it’s estimated that as little as 8% of cancer patients are able to receive and benefit from this type of treatment.

5. Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that was developed in the ‘80s. Similar to chemotherapy, targeted therapy uses drugs to target certain cells, but more specifically, proteins that allow tumors to exist and grow within the body.

Currently, there are two different types of targeted therapy that are used—small-molecule drugs and monoclonal antibodies.

As the term suggests, small-molecule drugs can penetrate cells fairly easily and attack targets within the cells. Monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, are lab-generated proteins that are designed to attach to certain targets or mark cancer cells for the immune system to attack.

6. Hormone Therapy

While hormones play a key role in human development and other important functions, there are hormones that actually fuel certain cancer cells. This is sometimes the case with prostate cancer and breast cancer.

There are two types of hormone therapy—that which blocks the body’s ability to produce certain hormones and that which changes the behavior of certain hormones.

Hormone therapy can be administered in a few very different ways. Oncologists may prescribe a pill or injection, or they may arrange to have a specific hormone-producing organ surgically removed.

Naturally, hormone therapy often comes with a wide range of side effects—from diarrhea and nausea to hot flashes and fatigue.


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