guidelines: Page #1
In many cases,
cancer treatment may mean the complete elimination of cancer from the
body, or a cure. In other cases, cancer treatment aims to retard the
growth of the tumors so that an individual may live a longer life.
Sometimes, treatment may even cause more harm than good and the main
focus may be to reduce symptoms that would essentially cause pain and
suffering, or what is referred to as palliative cancer
Most people are
aware that the earlier a cancer is found, the more likely it is to be
cured. Advanced cancers and recurrent cancers after initial treatment
frequently indicate that the cancer has spread. Cure then will be
much less likely.
The main forms of
cancer treatment are surgery, radiation and drugs. Surgery is used
when it is possible to completely or partially remove the cancer, so
that other therapies may have a higher probability for success. Also,
surgery may be used to stop bleeding or relieve pressure on a
particular structure or organ of the body.
is usually directed at a tumor to destroy or reduce its size.
However, not all cancers respond to radiation treatment.
There are several
types of drugs that are used in cancer treatment. Chemotherapy
involves drugs that are used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs
work through various mechanisms targeting unusual aspects of the
cancer cells. However, chemotherapy drugs also kill normal cells as
well, and cause many side effects that make people feel extremely
ill. Other drugs suppress hormones that stimulate cancers to grow and
thereby suppress cancer growth. Some of the newer drugs attack
cancerous cells in unusual ways resulting ultimately in their death.
An example of these types of medications is imatinib for
chronic mylocytic leukemia. This drug prevents leukemia cells from
functioning through an attachment process which ultimately results in
treatment is referred to as immunotherapy, which stimulates the immune
system to attack cancer or uses antibodies that attach themselves to
cancer cells. These antibodies can be combined with chemotherapy
drugs or even radioactive agents, so that the drugs may go exactly
where they are needed, attacking the cancer cells.
If an individual
has other diseases or conditions, it may complicate their cancer
treatment. Heart failure or impaired kidney function are known to
limit the choices in dosages of chemotherapy drugs, which are used to
treat certain forms of cancer. Chronic liver disease may also make
the use of chemotherapy drugs more difficult by increasing the toxic
side effects of some drugs. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
can also limit the use of radiation that might otherwise be used to
treat lung cancers, because of the harmful side effects of the
radiation to lung tissue, which has already been damaged by the COPD.
However, cancer treatment is usually possible in spite of many of
these other diseases and conditions.