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Options for Cancer Treatment are Evolving

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, December 19, 2018

We hope that neither you nor anyone else in your family ever has to battle cancer. Unfortunately, it is rare to find any family that has completely escaped the condition. Luckily, research is providing more options than ever for treatment.

Obviously, this is a matter that you will discuss carefully with your physicians will assist you in selecting the course of treatment, but with medical technology growing rapidly, we now have more effective cancer treatment options than ever. The more common approaches will often include one of, or a combination of the following.

Surgery. Surgery is often performed to physically remove a cancerous tumor from your body. The use of surgery as a treatment will depend upon factors such as the size and location of the cancerous cells, whether it has spread, and the type of cancer diagnosed. Sometimes surgery is recommended only after another method, such as chemotherapy, has been used to increase the odds of successfully removing the entire tumor.

Chemotherapy uses certain specialized drugs to kill the cancer cells. Often chemotherapy will slow the growth of, or shrink, a tumor making it easier to remove surgically. Chemotherapy can cause uncomfortable side effects, of course, so researchers continue to develop additional drugs to help manage those effects and keep patients more comfortable during the process.

Radiation therapy involves high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors significantly. As with chemotherapy, side effects do exist, and radiation is often used in conjunction with other treatments.

Immunotherapy actually encompasses a number of different biological therapies that boost the immune system and help it to fight certain forms of cancer. The reason cancer cells grow out of control is because they are able to hide from your immune system, and go undetected within your body. Immunotherapy helps your immune system to recognize these invaders and fight back against them. This is still a growing field of research, and used less commonly than surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Stem cell transplants. With most forms of cancer, stem cell transplants don’t actually work directly against the cancer itself. Instead, the point is to replace blood-forming stem cells in people whose own cells were too damaged by chemotherapy or radiation. However, stem cell transplants are used as direct treatment against some forms of leukemia and multiple myeloma.

The above cancer treatments are just some of the more common options, and many more are undergoing clinical trials to determine effectiveness. In the near future, cancer patients are likely to have many more options at their disposal.

In the meantime, the best “treatment” for cancer is always prevention and early diagnosis. Continue to visit your physician for regular screenings, particularly for more common forms of the disease like breast and colon cancer. When the condition is caught early, a full remission remains possible for most patients.

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