CAN CANCER BE TREATED?
Cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and synthetic lethality. The choice of therapy depends upon the location and grade of the tumor and the stage of the disease, as well as the general state of the patient. Complete removal of the cancer without damage to the body is the ideal goal of the cancer treatment. Staging of cancer is very effective in the treatment of cancer. Most of the cancer have the stages upto IV. Some cancer also have the stage 0. Stage 0 cancers are still located in the place they started and have not spread to nearby tissues. This stage of cancer is often highly curable. Stage I is usually small cancer that has not grown deeply into nearby tissues. It is often called early stage cancer. Stage II and III indicate larger cancers that have grown more deeply and spread to the lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body. Stage IV indicates that cancer has also spread to other organs of the body
WHAT IS CANCER?
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Not all tumors are cancers, benign tumors does not spread into other parts of the body. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movement. The most common type of cancers in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. In females, the most common types are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer. In children, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and brain tumors are most common. The risk of cancer increases significantly with age and many cancers occurs most commonly in developed countries. Rates are increasing as more people live to an old age and lifestyle changes occurring in the developing world.
TREATMENTS OF THE CANCER
In theory, non-hematological cancers can be cured if entirely removed by surgery, but this is not possible when the cancer spreads into other parts of the body. Examples of surgical procedures for cancer include mastectomy for breast cancer, prostactomy for prostate cancer and lung cancer surgery for non-small cell lung cancer. The goal of the surgery can be either the removal of the tumor or the entire organ. In addition to the removal of the tumor, surgery is often necessary for the staging. Occasionally surgery is necessary for controlling the symptoms, such as spinal cord compression or bowel obstruction. Surgery may be performed before or after other treatments.
Radiation therapy is the use of ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can be administered externally through external beam radiotherapy or internally through brachytherapy. The effects of the radiation therapy are localised and confined to the region being treated. The goal of radiation therapy is to damage as many cancer cells, while limiting harm to nearby healthy tissues. Most of the normal cells can be recover from the effects of radiation and function normally. Radiation therapy may be used to treat all types of solid tumors including cancers of brain, breast, cervix, larynx, liver, lung, lung, pancreas, prostate, skin, stomach, uterus or soft tissue sarcoma. It is also used to treat leukemia and lymphoma. It kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA.
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs, that can destroy cancer cells. Most forms of chemotherapy target all rapidly dividing cells and are not specific to cancer cells. Because some drugs work together than alone, two or more drugs are often given at the same time. This is called ‘combination chemotherapy’. The treatment of some leukaemias and lymphomas requires the use of high dose and total body irradiation. This treatment ablates the bone marrow, and hence the body’s ability to recover and repopulate the blood. Bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell harvesting is carried out before therapy to enable rescue after the treatment has been given. This is known as autologous stem cell transplantation.
Targeted therapy constitutes the use of agents specific for the deregulated proteins of cancer cells. Small molecule targeted therapy drugs are generally inhibitors of enzymatic domains on mutated otherwise critical proteins within the cancer cells. Prominent examples are the tyrosine kinase inhibitors imatanib and gefitinib. Monoclonal antibody therapy is another strategy in which the therapeutic agent is an antibody which specifically binds to a protein on the surface of the cancer cells. Targeted therapy can also involve small peptides as homing devices which can bind to cell surface receptors or affected extracellular matrix surrounding the tumor. Photodynamic therapy is a ternary treatment of cancer involving photosensitizer, tissue oxygen and light.
Cancer immunotherapy refers to a diverse set of therapeutic strategies designed to induce the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumor. Contemporary methods for generating an immune response against tumors include intravesical BCG immunotherapy for superficial bladder cancer, and use of interferons and other cytokines to induce an immune response in renal cell carcinoma and melanoma patients. Vaccines are generated for malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. Allogenic hematopoietic system can be considered as a case of immunotherapy.
The growth of some cancers can be inhibited by providing or blocking certain hormones. Common examples include the breast and prostate cancer.
Angiogenesis inhibitors prevent excessive growth of blood vessels that tumors require to survive.
Synthetic lethality arises when a combination of deficiencies in the expression of two or more genes leads to cell death. The deficiencies can arise due to mutation, epigenetic alterations or inhibitors of one or both of the genes.
CAUSES OF CANCER
Most cancers are related to environmental, lifestyle or behavioral exposures. Common environmental factors that contribute to cancer death include tobacco, obesity, infections, radiation, lack of physical activity and environmental pollutants. It is nearly impossible to prove what caused cancer because it may have multiple causes. Cancer is generally not contagious in humans, though it can be caused by oncovirus and cancer bacteria. In the developing world 20%of the cancers are due to infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human papillomavirus. Some hormones play a role in the development of cancer by promoting cell proliferation. They are important in sex related cancers
- Appetite loss
- Bleeding and Bruising
- Hair loss
- Infection and Neutropenia
- Memory or Concentration problems
- Mouth and Throat problems
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Nerve problems
- Sexual and fertility problems
- Skin and Nail changes
- Sleep problems
- Urinary and Bladder problems
The Cancer is a disease which can be cured but not always. Doctors know how quickly certain cancers come back. Some tends to return back within 3 years and some others take 20 years. Because of improvements in treatments people are now living longer after a cancer, often with a good quality of life. Although cancer can’t be cured completely it can be treated well. Treatment may give a patient many extra months or years. It can also relieve the symptoms like pain.