Cancer is a genetic disease that occurs when healthy cells in a specific part of the body develop harmful changes in their DNA (mutation), causing them to reproduce and grow uncontrollably. Overtime, mutated cells crowd out or destroy surrounding healthy cells.
There are many different cancer treatments available and which one your doctor will recommend will depend on the type of cancer you have, how advanced it is, and your personal preferences, among other important factors. Sometimes, only one short treatment may be necessary, such as for non-aggressive or slower-growing types of cancer. There are cases, however, that require a combination of treatments to achieve better outcomes.
The following are a few of the most common types of treatment options available for cancer:
Many patients with cancer are treated with surgery. It is a local type of treatment, meaning only the part of the body with cancer is treated. Surgery is particularly effective for solid-cancer tumors that are contained in one area.
Surgery may be used in conjunction with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Surgery is aimed at:
- Removing the entire cancer tumor (if confined in one area).
- Debulking a tumor (which removes part of a cancer tumor which can help other treatments to work more successfully).
- Mitigating cancer symptoms (if a tumor is causing pain or pressure).
There are types of cancer that can be addressed with minimally invasive surgery, which involves smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time compared to open surgery.
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and to shrink or slow the growth of tumors by destroying the cell’s DNA. Permanent damage to the cell’s DNA prevents them from dividing and eventually causes them to die and get eliminated from the body.
There are two main types of radiation therapy: external beam and internal radiation therapy.
The type of radiation therapy that your doctor will recommend depends on a number of factors, such as:
- Your type of cancer
- Size and location of the tumor
- How close the tumor is to healthy tissue (that may be sensitive to radiation)
- Your health, age, and medical history
Radiation therapy may be combined with surgery. It may be given in any of the following:
- Prior to surgery to shrink the size of the cancer, so it can be more easily removed;
- During surgery so that radiation goes directly to the cancer without passing through the skin;
- Or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and to help prevent the cancer from returning.
It is worth noting that there is a limit to the amount of radiation an area of the body can safely receive. This makes radiation therapy a less likely option for cases of cancer that have high rates of recurrence.
Chemotherapy utilizes powerful medications to prevent cancer cells from growing, reproducing, and spreading. This type of treatment can be administered in a number of different ways, the most common of which are intravenously (IV) and orally.
Chemotherapy treatment is often given in cycles to allow the body to recover and build new healthy cells during rest periods. Chemotherapy may be used to:
- Cure the cancer completely
- Reduce the risk of cancer recurrence
- Relieve symptoms of cancer
Chemotherapy may also be used alongside other treatments to make them more effective. Your doctor will take the following factors into consideration when assessing the duration and type of chemotherapy they will use:
- Overall health
- The type of cancer and how advanced the cancer is
- Whether chemotherapy is being used to cure the cancer, control the growth of the cancer, or to ease symptoms
- How well your body responds
COMPREHENSIVE CANCER TREATMENT IN WOOSTER, OHIO
At Wooster Community Hospital, our cancer care team is committed to providing our patients more than just medical treatments. Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer or living with it for years, we will be with you every step of the way to help you navigate your condition and enable you to live the best quality of life.