Chemotherapy Treatment for Cancer
Cancer is a worldwide public health concern and the main cause of death. The most common type of cancer is lung cancer, followed by breast cancer, colon cancer, and stomach cancer, respectively. As for mortality rate, the leader is still lung cancer, followed by stomach cancer, liver cancer, and colon cancer. Other types of cancer include pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, bone cancer, prostate cancer, and bladder cancer. Treatment with chemotherapy is detrimental and can be the first line of defense that helps patients recover to their normal routine.
Cancer Is Curable
Cancer is curable. If discovered in the early stages, surgical removal can lead to cure, such as breast cancer or colon cancer. In contrast, if the diagnosis occurs after the cancer has spread to other organs, it may not be curable.
The good news is that, with the current advancement of cancer treatment, certain types of cancer can still be curable with chemotherapy. These include:
- Testicular cancer
- Certain types of lymphoma
- Certain types of leukemia
Integrative Cancer Treatment
Nowadays, cancer treatment tends to be integrative, which means that treatment is determined by a team of medical specialists including:
- Diagnostic radiologist.
- Interventional radiologist who can diagnose and administer chemotherapy into the blood vessel that feeds into the tumor, or a process known as intra-arterial chemotherapy.
- Surgical oncologist who can remove the tumor.
- Radiation oncologist who can administer radiation treatment.
- Oncologist who can choose chemotherapeutic regimens, as follows:
- Chemotherapy is the main choice for cancer treatment. Chemotherapeutic drugs can be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy, known as chemoradiation. The chosen regimen can be a single agent or in combination with targeted therapy or immunotherapy, depending on the stage and type of cancer.
- Hormonal therapy is the next most common treatment after chemotherapy.
- Targeted therapy is chosen based on the characteristic of cancer.
- Immunotherapy enhances the body’s own immune system to combat cancer.
Cancer Staging and Treatment Options
Cancer treatment is dependent on the stage of cancer, which can be classified into 4 stages:
- Stage 1 – 2 cancer can still be treated with surgery. Some patients may require additional chemotherapy or hormonal therapy, known collectively as adjuvant treatment.
- Stage 3 cancer describes the spreading of cancer to nearby lymph nodes. Some patients can still have surgery to remove affected area. Afterwards, additional therapies with either chemotherapy, radiation treatment, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy may be required to decrease the risk of local recurrence or metastasis. This, in turns, prolongs overall survival of the patients.
If the cancer is too large or requires more aggressive treatment, sometimes chemotherapy can be administered prior to surgery to reduce the size first. This technique helps preserve the tissue, such as breast conserving surgery, and then other treatment options can follow.
- Stage 4 or recurrent of stages 1 – 3 cancer tends to be metastatic, which means that it has spread to the lungs, liver, bone, brain or other tissue in the body. Certain types of cancer can still be curable at this stage, such as testicular cancer, or choriocarcinoma.
In most cases, metastatic cancer tends to be incurable, but patients can still have better quality of life with willpower, good overall health and suitable nutrition. The oncologist can administer chemotherapy to interrupt cancer growth, both at the systemic and local level. Currently, targeted therapy or immunotherapy in combination with chemotherapy have shown increased efficiency in combating cancer. If the patient responds to such integrative treatment, it will lead to better quality of life and prolonged survival.
Other types of treatment for stage 4 cancer include hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, depending on the characteristics of cancer.