The two most common cancer treatments are radiation therapy (or radiotherapy) and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to attack cancerous cells in various ways. Immunotherapy strengthens the immune system, while cancer vaccines are intended to prevent or treat certain types of cancer (Hepatitis B and cervical cancer vaccines are currently available in the U.S.) Chemotherapy drugs must go through extensive drug trials before use on human cancer patients.
Radiotherapy aims radioactive particles (for instance, protons and gamma rays) at the specific part of the body that’s affected by the cancer. For small tumors (sometimes called seed tumors) or blood vessel cancers, a gamma knife may be used. Cervical cancers may be treated with intracavity radiation.
In some cases, such as breast or uterine cancer, the cancerous growth may be surgically removed. These patients usually undergo radiotherapy to ensure complete removal or cancerous cells; breast cancer patients may choose to have plastic surgery or wear prostheses once treatment is complete, while uterine cancer patients and others must utilize hormone replacement therapy.
There is no vaccine that will prevent cancer. Finding out you have cancer can be very scary, but it is important to remember that there are treatment options available. Whether your cancer is linked to hormone therapy, exposure to radiation, or even just genetics, you should visit your local treatment centers and learn more about treatment and prevention options.
While there are not always visible signs for cancer, you may notice tumors, or irregular cell growth, in places like your breasts. You should also get new or irregular moles checked regularly. Other cancers, such as those in the brain, are less noticeable. When cancer is small, a doctor may be able to remove or eliminate the cancer via surgery. One of the most common ways to treat advanced cancer is with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses stereotactic (or small, well aimed) X-rays, gamma rays and charged particles to destroy the cancerous cells.
This radiation may be intra-cavitary, or administered by planting radioactive seeds in the body, or external radiation. Some hospitals are now even experimenting with proton radiation therapy and radio wave therapy clinical trials. Another common treatment is chemotherapy, or chemo, which uses drugs to battle many diseases, including cancer. It can take a long time to repair your body after chemo, as it has many side effects, such as hair loss, nausea, and upsetting your hormone balance.
There are many theories as to what causes cancer, from hormone treatments to exposure to the sun. Doctors have been using cancer simulations to find a cure, or at least a vaccine, but none have yet been found. Instead of a vaccine, many people prevent cancer by wearing protection from the sun and avoiding harsh chemicals, though these are not a guarantee.
Radiation therapy is the delivery of high energy electron beams in order to kill cancer cells. Whether someone has lymphoma, lung cancer or colorectal cancer, these beams are used to fight cancer from spreading to other areas. The medical oncologist is someone who diagnoses cancer and oversees treatment. For example, if someone has lung cancer symptoms, they will order X-rays and examine the results. The cancer therapy is delivered by a radiation therapist in a hospital or health center. Therapists will follow the orders prescribed by a doctor and work with a dosimetrist to determine the amount of radiation needed for each treatment.
- Dosimetrist – A dosimetrist is a specially trained medical professional who plans and calculates the amount of radiation used in treatment.
- Electron Beam – An electron beam treats cancer by using high energy particles.
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the use of certain drugs in cancer treatment. Different types of chemotherapy will be used, depending whether a patient is living with lymphoma, colorectal cancer or some other type of cancer.
- Conformal Radiation Therapy – Conformal radiation therapy is when radiation is guided by a computer to fit around a tumor and avoid healthy tissue.
- Immobilization Device – An immobilization device will ensure that a patient remains in the same position for each treatment.
- Biopsy – A biopsy is a procedure after a patient has a cancer symptom. This procedure involves removing a piece of tissue to determine whether cancer is present.
- Simulation – Simulation is the process of planning radiation treatment and determining the dose and location of delivery.
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