Cancer is one of the scariest medical diagnoses to hear. Cancer affects almost 40% of all people at some point during their lifetime, and odds are someone in your family has had cancer – or you may have it yourself.
Thankfully, there is an entire branch of medicine dedicated to the study and treatment of cancer, known as oncology. Oncologists are doctors who specialize in oncology, and they use a variety of treatments to fight cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Let’s discuss further what oncology is, what cancer is, the different types of oncology, and where you can go in Wayne County for the best cancer treatment if you or a loved one has unusual symptoms or has been diagnosed with cancer.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is a general term for a large group of diseases that are all characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells. These cells can then invade and damage tissue in any part of the body; the cancer cells can spread either to nearby tissues and organs or to distant tissues and organs by traveling through the circulatory system.
When cancer spreads beyond the original organ, it is said to metastasize. If cancer has spread from, for example, the breast to the brain, then the cancer cells in the brain are determined by an oncologist to be metastatic breast cancer.
There are many different types of cancer, each with its own unique symptoms and treatment options. The most common types of cancer include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer. Cancer also frequently affects the blood, bones, brain, and digestive system.
What Causes Cancer?
There are many different causes of cancer. In some cases, it is due to a genetic predisposition. This means that certain genes which are passed down from your parents can make you more likely to develop cancer. Other times, cancer is caused by lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes or spending too much time in the sun without wearing sunscreen.
There are also a number of environmental factors that can increase your risk of developing cancer, such as exposure to certain chemicals or radiation. However, it is important to note that most people who are exposed to these cancer-causing agents do not develop the disease, only those who are chronically or repeatedly exposed to these agents are at a higher risk of developing cancer.
How Cancer Is Treated in Different Areas of Oncology
The treatment of cancer depends on the type of cancer, how advanced it is, and where it is located in the body. There are branches of oncology that are specifically dedicated to each type of cancer treatment.
Depending on the type of cancer you have, how fast it is growing, and whether it has already spread (metastasized) to different parts of your body, you may have only one type of cancer treatment or a combination of treatments that will work for you. For example, for men who have had a radical prostatectomy (had their prostate removed) but now have stage-4 prostate cancer in an area of their abdomen, a special combination of radiation therapy and hormone therapy is seeing incredible success in tamping down cancer.
There are many more oncology treatments that are consistently successful in the same way.
Medical oncology focuses on the treatment of cancer with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a type of medication that is used to kill cancer cells. Chemo can be given as a pill, injection, or intravenously (through a tube that is inserted into a vein).
Medical oncologists use chemotherapy to treat a variety of types of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and leukemia (blood cancer). Chemotherapy can be given as a standalone treatment or in combination with other treatments, including surgery or radiation therapy.
Chemo cancer treatment is often administered before cancer surgery in order to decrease the size of the tumor, which will help to make the surgery less intensive and hopefully more successful. It may also be used after cancer surgery to get rid of any remaining cancer cells that may have broken off the main tumor and circulated in the body (metastasized) before surgery took place.
Radiation oncology is the branch of oncology that specializes in the treatment of cancer with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation oncologists use this to treat many different types of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain cancer.
Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can be given as a standalone treatment or in combination with other treatments. Radiation can be administered before, during, or after surgery; when given during surgery, it is the most effective because the skin is not interfering with the radiation reaching the organ being treated.
Surgical oncology is the branch of cancer care that treats cancer with surgery. Surgery is a treatment that involves the physical removal of cancerous tissue. It can be used to treat a variety of cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Surgical oncologists use surgery to treat a variety of types of cancer. Surgery can be used to remove the cancerous tissue, as well as any surrounding tissue (which may be vulnerable to metastasis) and nearby lymph nodes, which often do collect cancer cells.
Surgery can also be implemented to biopsy the tumor, or to insert a stent or other type of device to keep cancer from spreading. Some people who have genetic risk factors for cancer choose elective surgery to remove tissue that is likely to become cancerous in the future.
A fairly common example of this is a double mastectomy, in which a woman elects to have both breasts surgically removed because the woman is at high risk for breast cancer. This is a preventive measure to ensure an almost 100% chance of preventing that type of cancer from ever developing. A woman can have genetic testing to determine whether she has an abnormality in the breast cancer gene (BRCA1 and BRCA2, or breast cancer gene if mutated), and if so, the woman may indeed decide to have a preventive double mastectomy.
Cancer Treatment in Wooster and Wayne County
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, it is imperative to find out which treatment options are right for you – and to start oncology treatment as soon as possible. At Wooster Community Hospital, each cancer patient is given a personalized care team that will work together to combine their expertise and design a personalized cancer treatment plan for you.
When you trust us with your care, we do everything we can to treat your cancer and prevent it from coming back.
If you are interested in finding out more about our comprehensive cancer care, call us today at (330) 263-8144 to schedule a tour of our facility, or request an appointment now with our board-certified oncologists and experienced cancer care teams. We look forward to helping you tamp down your cancer!