Cancer is one of the most common diseases in the world. According to WHO, one in six deaths in 2020 was due to cancer. There are various kinds of cancer, and each one follows a different treatment plan.
While the shared belief is that cancer is a death sentence, this is not always the case. Cancer survival rates have increased over the years. According to the National Cancer Institute, the overall cancer survival rate in the United States has increased from 49% to 64%. Cancer survivors may climb to 22.2 million by 2030.
What Causes Cancer?
The abnormal growth of cells causes cancer. These cells can grow uncontrollably and invade nearby tissues. Cancer can also spread to other body parts through the blood or lymphatic system.
Many different factors can contribute to the development of cancer. These include:
These can be inherited or acquired during a person's lifetime. Genetic mutations are the changes in a person's DNA that can make them more susceptible to developing cancer. The most frequently changed gene in people with cancer is p53, also known as TP53. A damaged or missing p53 gene accounts for more than 50% of all cancers.
Exposure to certain chemicals and radon can increase a person's risk of developing cancer. For example, asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause mesothelioma - the deadliest of all cancer types. Individuals who work as military personnel, construction workers, or the automotive industry are at a higher risk of asbestos exposure. Seeking justice with mesothelioma settlements is the best way to ensure you and your family are taken care of financially.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds can increase a person's risk of developing skin cancer. Due to this, dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. When UV radiation damages the skin, it can cause changes in DNA that lead to cancer.
Types of Cancer Treatment
Various effective cancer treatments have made survival a possibility. There are several ways to fight cancer, ranging from radiotherapy to targeted therapy.
Radiotherapy uses high-energy beams to target cancer cells and is one of the most common cancer treatments. There are two types of radiation therapy - external and internal.
External beam radiation therapy uses a machine to direct the radiation beams at the cancerous cells from outside the body. It is a local treatment plan, which means it only focuses on the specific area of the body that is affected by cancer.
On the other hand, internal beam radiation therapy uses an implant device to deliver the radiation directly to the cancer cells. It is also known as brachytherapy. In this therapy, seeds, ribbons, or capsules containing a radiation source are inserted into your body near the tumor.
Radiotherapy can be used as a primary treatment to shrink the tumor before surgery. It can also be used as a secondary treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery. It is usually given in short, daily sessions over a few weeks. It doesn't kill cancerous cells instantly. Damaging the DNA may take several weeks before cancer cells start dying. Once the therapy end, the cells continue to die for some time.
Breast, cervix, prostate, and eye cancer are common cancers that radiotherapy can cure.
Chemotherapy is effective in treating cancer and easing the symptoms. It uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. Chemotherapy can be given intravenously, by mouth, or topically.
Chemotherapy is a cycle-based treatment plan. Each cycle lasts for a few weeks. The length of time depends on the type and stage of cancer. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill as many cancer cells as possible while minimizing the side effects.
Like radiation therapy, chemotherapy doesn't kill cancer cells immediately. Instead, it takes a few days or weeks for the drugs to work. Once the treatment ends, the effects of the drugs can last for months or years. Chemotherapy can be a primary course of treatment or a secondary one. It is often combined with other cancer treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is mostly used against lung, ovarian, and breast cancer.
3. Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that attacks proteins that control how cancer cells develop, divide, and spread. It is the basis of precision medicine. Researchers are better at designing treatments that target these molecules as they learn more about DNA changes and proteins that cause cancer.
Small-molecule drugs and monoclonal antibodies are the most common targeted treatments. Small-molecule drugs are designed to block the activity of a protein by binding to it. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that attach themselves to specific molecules, such as proteins, to prevent them from working.
Biomarker testing can determine if a person's cancer has proteins that can be targeted with this type of therapy. A biopsy may be done to remove a sample of the cancerous tissue. The tissue is then tested for specific biomarkers. If the test is positive, targeted therapy may be an option.
Leukemia, breast cancer, and brain cancer are some of the common cancers that can be treated with targeted therapy.
These are three of the most common types of cancer treatments. Others include surgery, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplants. The best treatment plan for you will depend on the type and stage of cancer. An oncologist will work with you to create a treatment plan that is best for your situation. With the right treatment plan, your will to fight and the support of your loved ones can help you through it.
Remember, you are not alone in this battle. There are many resources available to help you through your cancer journey. Talk to your doctor, nurses, or a support group to get more information and emotional support.