Once the initial shock of a cancer diagnosis subsides, it’s time to focus on choosing the best treatment option. Your oncologist is the best source of information about the optimal way to treat your cancer, but it’s always wise to understand all the options so you can make the best choice possible. This overview will explain the basics and is an excellent stepping stone into more in depth research of the treatments that interest you.
Depending on the type and location of the cancer, removing it surgically is sometimes an option. When possible, surgeons remove the entire tumor and some surrounding tissue to ensure that all of the cancer cells are removed. If the cancer is located in a vital organ, the surgeon may remove part of that organ or simply remove some of the tumor to make it smaller. A smaller tumor will respond better to other treatment methods than a large one. In late-stage cancers, surgery is sometimes used to alleviate the pain a tumor is causing, improving the patient’s quality of life.
Oncologists often turn to chemicals and drugs to treat cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation both work by destroying rapidly growing cancer cells. Chemotherapy does this by sending medication throughout the entire body. Radiation therapy targets the cancer cells more directly, but is sometimes sent throughout the body as well. When it is, the radiation is more likely to make its way into the cancer cells without affecting other tissues. Unfortunately, these treatments both kill some healthy cells, causing some unpleasant side effects. Targeted therapy is sometimes a better option. Although considered a form of chemotherapy, targeted therapy uses chemicals that attack only certain parts of a call rather than the entire entity. This allows the medication to target only the cancer cells that contain these anomalies while avoiding healthy cells.
Your immune system is generally extremely efficient when it comes to attacking dangerous cells and foreign bodies. Cancer cells, however, start as regular cells and then mutate into cancer. As a result, your immune system does not immediately recognize the threat cancer cells pose. In immunotherapy, doctors use antibodies, T cells, proteins and other living substances to boost your own immune system. This treatment encourages your body to eliminate cancer cells on its own and recognize them in the future if they come back.
Scientist and doctors are slowly but surely making strides in cancer treatment methods. Don’t hesitate to ask your oncologist about some of the newer treatments. Many doctors are having success with stem cell therapies, and others are using heat to kill cancer cells in a treatment known as hyperthermia. A photodynamic therapy has also been developed that uses focused light to kill cancer cells. There is also significant progress being made in CBD research, which shows that using something like a CBD tincture is effective at treating certain types of cancer as well as their prevention.
If you’re battling cancer, it’s important to understand the weapons available to you. Do your research, ask lots of questions and get a second opinion before making any final treatment decisions. Remember that this is your fight, and you have every right to understand your options and have input into your care plan.