Unfortunately, many people across the world receive a cancer diagnosis every day and none of them are ready to cope with such a news. The word “cancer” induces fear in people and this is more than understandable. After being diagnosed with cancer, every patient experiences negative feelings and emotions like unwished loneliness, loss of control and hope. These patients think the worst and for this reason, they have a hard time digesting the information received. For some of them, coming to terms with the situation is impossible. Sadness, confusion, anger, denial, guilt, depression and stress flood their minds. However, the reality is that unless you accept that terrifying situation, you will never succeed to overcome it. Even in such difficult times, there is hope. To be precise, patients should inquire more about the type of treatments available by discussing with a specialized doctor and choose the most efficient method for complete cure.
Understand your diagnosis before choosing the type of treatment
Of course, each patient has the right to seek a second or a third medical opinion about his particular case. Nevertheless, if two cancer specialists tell you the same thing, then you should save time, money and other resources. Instead, you should direct your attention towards the treatment options. These include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, medication, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplantation. After becoming familiar with all these options, the patient and his family must make the important decision together. Before deciding upon the most suitable type of cancer treatment, the patient must fully understand the diagnosis. Most people cannot help but navigate the internet in search of answers, but this is not a wise move because the information found on different websites can be misleading. Asking questions to your doctor about the respective condition, as well as the benefits and risks of each treatment will clarify any doubt and help you gain a new perspective on the situation.
The oldest and the most common cancer treatment is surgery and it accounts for the removal of the mass and surrounding tissues by a surgical oncologist. This type of intervention has multiple purposes, from diagnosing cancer and finding out the exact location of the tumor to assessing the stage of cancer, relieving the side effects and restoring the body’s natural function. The type of surgery chosen for a specific form of cancer depends on the area of the body affected, the amount of tissue the surgical oncologist needs to remove and the patient’s wish.
There are two main types of surgery; open and minimally invasive. The first requires making a large cut in order to remove the mass and probably lymph nodes in close proximity. Minimally invasive surgery consists of making small cuts so that the surgical oncologist can insert a laparoscope that allows him to see inside the body when performing the surgery. With special tools, he removes the mass and some healthy tissues around. This option is viable for solid tumors located in a certain area. It does not work for leukemia or other cancer types that have already spread to different parts of the body.
Cancer cells grow and multiply at a faster pace and chemotherapy holds the purpose to slow down or stop that process. Therefore, this treatment option can either cure cancer or ease the symptoms caused by this alarming disease by shrinking the tumors responsible for the pain and other issues. Sometimes, a doctor recommends combining chemotherapy with another treatment or other options for better results. For instance, doctors can use it before surgery to diminish the size of the tumor or after the surgery to destroy the remaining cancerous cells.
Unfortunately, this type of cancer treatment comes with unpleasant side effects because chemotherapy does not focus entirely on fast-growing cancer cells meaning that it also affects healthy cells like those responsible for hair growth. Because of this, during the treatment patients experience immense hair loss. The most common side effects caused by chemotherapy, besides hair loss, refers to fatigue, nausea and mouth sores. Those patients who choose this form of treatment need the help and support of their families more than ever because they can barely take care of themselves. Even more, they usually spend most of the time in bed because their body needs rest.
Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy or x-ray therapy, kills cancer cells or diminishes the tumors using high doses of particles or waves. Specialists also use radiation in lower doses in order to see the inside of the patient’s body. This type of treatment damages the cancerous cells DNA impeding them to recover and causing them to stop dividing. As soon as the cancer cells die, the body performs the role of eliminating them. Patients who choose this treatment method must be fully aware that satisfactory results will only appear after days or weeks. There are two types of radiotherapy, namely external beam radiation therapy and internal beam radiation therapy.
With the first type of radiation, doctors use a large and noisy machine to aim particles in the affected area of the body, which makes it a local treatment. The machine does not even touch the patient. On the other hand, with the second type of radiotherapy, doctors place a source of radiation, in liquid or solid form, inside the patient’s body. The type of radiation chosen for a specific type of cancer varies according to several factors, which involve tumor size and location, the patient’s medical history and general health, his age, and other existing medical conditions.
Even though surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy represent the main types of cancer treatments used by doctors, there are other treatment options as well. For instance, immunotherapy helps the patient’s immune system to cope with cancer. The procedure practically consists in using living organisms to make substances, that serves the purpose to treat cancer.
Furthermore, with targeted therapy, doctors direct their full attention towards changes in cancerous cells allowing them to grow and spread thus ensuring the best form of cancer treatment.