Cancer treatments. Part 1
A few years ago, a cancer diagnosis often sounded like a death sentence. But oncology, like any other field of medicine, does not stand still. The classic triad of cancer treatment – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy – has now been supplemented with new techniques. Modern oncologists have at their disposal a wide arsenal, which helps to save many lives, and in cases where this is impossible, significantly prolong the patient’s life and relieve painful symptoms.
The oncologist develops a treatment program based on the type, location, stage of the tumor, and the patient’s health. A team of specialists works with the patient, which may include oncologists, therapists, chemotherapists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, psycho-oncologists, rehabilitation therapists, and oncologists.
This article will discuss the main methods of treating cancer, we will briefly dwell on each of them and talk about the important points.
During the operation, the surgeon removes the tumor tissue, the affected nearby lymph nodes. The goals of surgical treatment can be different:
Removal of the entire tumor.
Removal of part of the tumor (cytoreductive surgery). This will not cure cancer, but it will help increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and other treatments.
Palliative surgery is usually performed in advanced stages of cancer. They help reduce pain, partially restore the functions of the affected organ.
Sometimes you can resort to minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, in other cases you have to make a large incision. It depends on the size and location of the tumor. With large neoplasms, many tissues or even entire parts of the body, such as the mammary gland, have to be removed. In the future, reconstructive plastic surgeries and prostheses help to restore the appearance.
Whenever possible, modern surgeons do without a scalpel and resort to cryosurgery (destruction of the neoplasm using low temperature), laser surgery, photodynamic therapy (introduction of a special drug into the tumor that makes it sensitive to light, followed by irradiation).
Chemotherapy drugs destroy rapidly dividing cells. Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other methods, such as surgery, radiation therapy. Chemotherapy can serve different purposes:
Shrink the swelling before surgery or radiation therapy. In this case, chemotherapy will be called neoadjuvant.
Destroy cancer cells that remain in the patient’s body after surgery. This chemotherapy is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
Improve the effectiveness of other cancer treatments.
Prevent relapse after surgery, radiation therapy.
Relieve pain and other symptoms caused by swelling.
Chemotherapy drugs are used in the form of tablets and capsules, intravenous injections, and they can also be administered into the body in other ways.