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5 Intriguing Types of Cancer Treatment

February 27, 2022
Est. Reading: 6 minutes

When cancer is suspected, there may be different tests and evaluations that need to be performed in order to determine the cancer type and stage. These include blood work, chest X-ray, CT scan of the chest and abdomen, bone marrow biopsy, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy with biopsy if cancer cells are seen on the surface, PET scan, etc.

Types of cancer treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapies. These cancer treatments are divided into categories based on their approach to cancer treatment: cytotoxic or biologic therapies.

 

Cancer Treatment

Cytotoxic cancer treatments are those that affect the cancer cells specifically without affecting other cells in the body. Cytotoxic cancer treatments are cell-cycle specific, meaning that cancer cells are killed specifically during one phase of their life cycle.

Biological cancer treatments affect cancer through different methods including stimulating the immune system to recognize cancer cells as the enemy or blocking the action of cancer-promoting substances in cancer cells.

Some cancer treatment methods may be used in combination with one another. For example, chemotherapy is often administered together with targeted therapies or radiation therapy to better treat cancer cells without damaging healthy tissues.

It is important to know the different cancer types that exist and what cancer treatment can be used for each cancer type in order to get a clear idea of how cancer treatment works. Cancer is often classified into broad categories by where it originates including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, sarcoma, and carcinoma.

Types of Cancer Treatments

Cancer Treatment, Types of Cancer Treatment, Cancer Treatment effectiveness, Cancer treatment duration

  • Breast Cancer is often treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes hormone therapy may also be administered to stop the production of estrogen after surgery so that cancer does not return. For example, post-surgery adjuvant chemotherapy uses cytotoxic cancer treatments to kill any cancer cells left behind in the body after surgery or destroy cancer cells that have metastasized from the original breast tumor location. Radiation therapy is most commonly used in early-stage breast cancer where surgically removing all cancer cells would result in loss of function of an organ or part of an organ affected by cancer.
  • Lung Cancer is commonly treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. For early-stage cancer of the lung that has not spread to other parts of the body (lung cancer stages I and II), surgery may be performed to remove cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used post-surgery for cancer that could not otherwise be removed through surgery or to kill any cancer cells left behind in the body. Radiation therapy is often administered during chemotherapy in order to help reduce symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing brought on by cancer tumors pressing against lungs and other internal organs (e.g., the liver). Targeted therapies may also be used for later-stage cancer of the lung when cancer has spread from the lungs to other parts of the body (lung cancer stages III and IV). These therapies target cancer cells more specifically than cytotoxic cancer treatments.
  • Colon Cancer is often treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. For early-stage cancer in the colon that is not advanced (colon cancer stages I and II), a surgeon may be able to remove cancer cells completely during a colon resection procedure. Chemotherapy may also be used in conjunction with radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells left behind after surgery or to kill cancer cells that have metastasized from the original tumor location. Targeted therapies are often administered for later-stage colon cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body or cancer that cannot be surgically removed (colon cancer stages III and IV).Cancer Treatment, Types of Cancer Treatment, Cancer Treatment effectiveness, Cancer treatment duration
  • Skin Cancer is commonly treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. Surgery may be performed to remove cancer cells for early-stage cancer on the skin surface or when cancer can be completely removed through surgery. Radiation therapy may also be used after surgical removal to kill any cancer cells left behind by surgery. Chemotherapy may be given post-surgery in order to kill any cancer cells left behind after surgery or help reduce symptoms brought on by cancer tumors pressing against organs or other parts of the body. Targeted therapies are often administered for later-stage skin cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body.
  • Ovarian Cancer is commonly treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. For early-stage cancer in the ovaries that has not spread to other parts of the body (ovarian cancer stages I and II), a surgeon may be able to remove cancer cells completely during an oophorectomy procedure. Surgery is also used for later-stage cancer when cancer cannot be removed without removing one or both functioning ovaries (ovarian cancer stages III and IV). Chemotherapy is often given after surgical removal of cancerous tissues to kill any cancer cells left behind by surgery or to destroy cancer cells that have metastasized from the primary tumor location. Targeted therapies are often administered post-surgery for cancer that cannot be removed through surgery or cancer that has metastasized from the primary tumor location.
  • Lymphoma is commonly treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies. Lymphoma may be treated using chemotherapeutic regimens containing a combination of drugs to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also used for lymphoma when cancer cannot be surgically removed or cancer has spread throughout the body. Targeted therapies are administered post-treatment for cancer that has not been completely removed by surgery or cancer cells have metastasized from the initial tumor site(s).
  • Hodgkin's Disease is most often treated with chemotherapy regimens containing multiple drug combinations meant to kill cancer cells completely. Radiation therapy is also used for cancer that cannot be removed by surgery or cancer cells have metastasized from the primary tumor site(s). Targeted therapies are administered post-treatment for cancerous cells that have not been completely removed through surgical procedures or cancer metastasized from the primary tumor site(s).
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is most often treated with chemotherapy regimens containing multiple drug combinations meant to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also used post-chemotherapy and/or surgery for cancerous cells that could not be completely removed during procedures and cancer cells have metastasized from the primary tumor site(s). Targeted therapies are administered post-treatment for cancerous cells that could not be removed entirely during procedures and cancer metastasized from the primary tumor site(s).
  • Leukemia is commonly treated with chemotherapy regimens containing multiple drug combinations meant to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also used post-chemotherapy and/or surgery for cancerous cells that could not be removed entirely during procedures and cancer cells have metastasized from the primary tumor site(s). Targeted therapies are administered post-treatment for cancerous cells that cannot be removed entirely during procedures and metastasize cancer from the primary tumor site(s).

 

Cancer Treatment Effectiveness

Cancer type-specific survival rates can be used to gauge how effective cancer treatment is in conjunction with Cancer Treatment Evaluation Criteria (CTEC). Cancer treatment effectiveness is also measured by how well a patient responds to a particular type of treatment. Cancer Response Criteria (CRC) provides a framework for generalizing the effects of cancer treatments across multiple studies and making comparisons between different types of treatments and/or studies. Cancer response criteria measure how quickly tumor cells return after starting a certain treatment and how long patients live without their cancer returning.

Cancer treatment effectiveness can also be measured by Cancer Treatment Benefit Criteria (CTBC), which measures how effective cancer treatments are in improving the length and quality of life for patients with certain types of cancers. Cancer treatment effectiveness can depend on whether or not a patient's type of cancer is curable, treatable, and/or if it responds positively to standard treatments and therapies. Cancer type-specific survival rates can go up or down depending on advancements in technology and healthcare throughout time; however, they do not always represent how well a particular type of cancer will respond to certain procedures. Changes in medical research may improve survival rates while having no effect on response criteria (i.e., Cancer Response). Cancer treatment effectiveness must take into account multiple factors, including cancer type, patient's age, gender, and/or cancer metastasis.

 

Cancer Treatment Duration

Cancer Treatment, Types of Cancer Treatment, Cancer Treatment effectiveness, Cancer treatment durationCancer treatment duration varies depending on cancer type, cancer stage, cancer treatment effectiveness, patient age, patient gender, patient health conditions/risk factors affecting cancer treatment effectiveness, and cancer metastasis.

Chemotherapy can last anywhere from a few days to several months.

Radiation therapy is typically given in daily doses over weeks or months.

Surgery duration varies depending on the cancer type and the number of tumor sites being removed. Hours are spent preparing for surgery by scrubbing down before the procedure begins. Surgeons make incisions with scalpels during surgery to remove tumors before administering anesthesia to keep patients still while tissue samples are being collected post-surgery for biopsies if needed. Some patients have permanent scars that show where the cancer was removed from their bodies.

Targeted cancer therapies are typically administered for a few months after cancer treatment. During cancer treatment, targeted cancer therapies are given to patients intravenously (IV) in daily doses over the course of weeks or months. The effects of these cancer treatments can last for years, but they stop working once cancer cells develop resistance to certain drugs and/or when cancer metastasizes from the primary tumor site(s).

 

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