“Cancer” is the proliferation in cells, tissues, and internal organs in an uncontrolled and unchecked manner. If it is present in connective tissue cells, for example, bone, blood vessels, fat, muscles, nerves, and cartilage, etc. then is called “sarcoma.” A collection of cancerous cells is called a “tumor.” The study of cancer and its associations is called “Oncology.”
Treatment of Cancer had no concept about just 100 years ago, people used to go unscreened and undiagnosed, without knowing their disease. Eventually, they had to face death. But with the advancement of modern science, screening, and diagnostic tests, it is now possible to diagnose almost any type of cancer and use a different kind of treatment modalities to cure it.
In initial times, doctors used to insert Phenol or other derivatives of alcohol along with surgical removal as an experiment to treat different cancers but remained unsuccessful. With the introduction of cytotoxic drugs, the field of Oncology has got drastic success and changes.
These drugs affect not only the cancer cells but also the normal body cells and destroy them all. The concept of radiation therapy is even more recently introduced. Currently, treatment modalities practiced in the world for the treatment of cancer are the following:
This type of treatment contains cytotoxic oral and injectable drugs. These drugs are either injected intravenously or taken through the oral route, which directly affects all types of body cell, cancer cells, as well as normal (non-cancerous) cells. They stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing them or by stopping their growth.
The former phenomenon occurs by destroying the nucleus or DNA of the cancer cells, while the latter phenomenon occurs by interfering the process of DNA replication of cancer cells.
The broad classification of anti-cancer drugs includes Alkylating agents, Topoisomerase inhibitors, Antibiotics, Antimetabolites, Vinca alkaloids, Taxanes, and Camptothecin analogs. Some of the drugs are affordable in price, but many are very much costly, so the purchasing power is very less in public.
Some other drugs are in the trial phase and not approved by the FDA. The success rate, ratio, and percentages are great, respectively, as chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment in any types of cancers.
The disadvantages to this type of treatment are its side effects which include body aches, abdominal cramps, GIT problems, mood swings, change of dietary habits, loss of sleep, loss of libido and hair fall.
The selection of the chemotherapeutic drug is according to the type (classification), staging and grading of cancer, for example, the positivity or negativity of ER, PR, and HER2neu receptors.
This type of treatment includes the exposure of the affected area of the body to a certain type of radiations which kills the cancer cells, stops their growth, and shrink the size of the tumor. The rays which commonly used are high energy x-rays, gamma rays, electrons, and photons, etc.
Radiation therapy is of two types, Teletherapy is used when the part of body or organ is approachable, means outside or hanging to the body, for example, breast cancer, while Brachytherapy is used when the part of the body or organ is not inadequate approach, for example, uterine or cervical cancer.
The overall success rate, ratio, and percentages are good, respectively. The advantages of this type of treatment are that it is considerably cheaper as compared to chemotherapy and fast in action. The disadvantage is mainly the disturbance of the cosmetic look of the part of the body of the person, as it actually burns the affected area through radiations.
This is often the first choice in many cancer treatment regimes. As this method alone is the mainstay of treatment in some cancers, in the field of oncology. It requires the surgical removal of the cancerous growth of cells (tumor).
The skin, epidermis, dermis, serosa, muscular layer, mucosa, submucosa, even whole of the organ or part of the body can be removed according to stage or grade of cancer.
The specimen can, later on, be sent for biopsy to the laboratory. This treatment modality can be combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy early or later on.
Stem Cell Therapy:
It is of very limited use and mainly used in blood cancers. Other than this, the lost normal bone marrow cells in chemo or radiotherapy can be replaced by synthetic new cells.
It is again of minimal usage, just to reduce the growth of already produced cancer cells or also to decrease the chances of conversion of pre-cancer cells into cancer cells. These contain Estrogen, progesterone, and combined (both) therapies. It is used to treat organs like breast and uterus etc.
This is an end-stage treatment when there is no hope for the cure, it only consists of removal of signs and symptoms of the disease (cancer), for example, pressure symptoms and pain. It is done by giving pain killers and sedative therapy. The option can also be considered.