According to the National Cancer Institute, a harrowing 39.5 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. This disheartening figure shows the importance and value of effective cancer care and treatment for patients diagnosed with the disease. Thankfully, leaps and bounds are being made in the field of medical science that is getting us closer to curing cancer and innovating the way disease is managed.
With the utilization of new treatments and research and testing consistently being conducted, it is possible that cancer treatment will be revolutionized within the next decade. Having an idea of the treatments being developed and the cancer research being done can help give one a clearer idea of what the medical science community has in store for cancer treatment in the coming years.
Traditional Cancer Treatments
Traditional cancer treatments have been helpful for many people and have saved countless lives. Unfortunately, there are cases in which these traditional methods for curing cancer have had severe side effects and sometimes ineffective results. Having a good understanding of traditional cancer treatments can help one understand the tremendous impact and implications of new modes of cancer treatment and care. Here are some examples of traditional cancer treatments:
Chemotherapy can be an effective treatment for patients with many forms of cancer. It is a systemic treatment that circulates throughout the bloodstream and kills cells. Cancer cells split off into new cells at a much faster rate than normal cells. It is through this constant splitting that tumors eventually form. Chemotherapy kills many of these splitting cells, thereby killing cancer in one’s body. Unfortunately, chemotherapy has been known to have some severe side effects such as hair loss, indigestion, and severe fatigue.
Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that typically uses X-ray, and in some cases, other forms of radiation, to target and kill cancer cells in specific parts of the body. The benefits of radiation therapy include the fact that it is a viable form of treatment for almost every variety of cancer that one may have. Unfortunately, radiation therapy can in some cases come with some negative side effects. These negative side-effects can include hair loss, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea depending on which part of the body you are receiving treatment on.
A common form of treatment for those with certain types of cancer is tumor removal surgery. This is a process in which a surgical oncologist surgically removes a tumor from one’s body. This can be a highly effective way to treat people with cancerous tumors. The limitations of this form of treatment include the fact that there are areas of the human body where it is difficult or impossible to conduct a tumor removal surgery without significant negative consequences to the patient’s health.
Emerging Cancer Treatments
Though the traditional cancer treatments have helped many people kill cancer in their bodies, there have been many cases where these treatments did not work as well as people hoped. Thankfully, there are several promising new types of cancer treatments that have shown a great deal of potential when it comes to curing cancer. Here are some new forms of cancer treatments that are having an impact on the effort to cure cancer:
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a biological therapy that has been gaining popularity as an alternative cancer treatment to traditional methods. Immunotherapy utilizes medicines that are created from living organisms. The benefits of immunotherapy include the fact that, unlike chemotherapy, immunotherapy is able to specifically kill cancer cells while not doing as much damage to healthy cells. Unfortunately, even though immunotherapy shows great promise as a form of cancer treatment, it can cause negative side effects such as weight gain and heart palpitations.
- Cancer vaccines: Personalized cancer vaccines are a new form of cancer treatment that is being researched and studied. This treatment takes a look at people’s individual DNA and cancer mutations and utilizes these findings to send an RNA messenger to the individual’s immune system to aid in fighting off cancer cells. This form of treatment is still in the clinical trials phase, but will hopefully be ready for public use within the next few years.
- Cell therapy: Cell therapy is a form of cancer treatment that aims to genetically modify people’s DNA in order to make their immune system attack cancer cells. This form of treatment has been shown to be extremely effective in killing cancer cells in trials. As of now, this treatment is only available to patients with a few specific types of blood cancer. One barrier to this therapy is its excessive price, costing over $100,000 per treatment.
- Photodynamic therapy: Photodynamic therapy is a newer cancer treatment that utilizes light to kill smaller tumors and precancerous cells. It has been shown to be very effective in some cases and has the potential to be refined into serious cancer treatment. As of right now, photodynamic therapy includes some negative side effects including the damage of healthy cells and sensitivity to light.
Cancer Prevention Awareness
Though cancer can sometimes be caused by genetic factors that are outside of one’s power to control, there are many instances in which cancer is caused by certain habits and carcinogens that can be avoided. Thankfully, there is more awareness about cancer-causing agents than there has ever been. Here are some cancer-causing agents that everyone should know about:
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco is a habit that can have disastrous effects on one’s health. It’s estimated that anywhere from 80-90% of lung cancer deaths are associated with the habit of smoking tobacco. One can substantially reduce their risk of developing lung cancer by ceasing the habit of smoking and staying away from second-hand smoke.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can greatly increase one’s risk of developing several forms of cancer. Experts in the field advise that women should not drink more than one drink a day, while men should not drink more than two drinks a day.
- Overweight: Being overweight can put one at a higher risk of developing several different types of cancer. An easy way to combat this is by watching the foods that one eats and exercising regularly. Experts suggest that adults should strive to get 150-300 minutes of exercise a week to maintain a healthy body.
The Future of Cancer Treatment Is Hopeful
With more research and testing being done on cancer treatment today than ever before, a cure to cancer could be found within the next decade. Though there is still work to be done, many potentially viable solutions to the problem of cancer are being found each and every day. With new treatments showing more and more promise, experts are working hard to perfect treatment methods and enable everyone with the opportunities to prevent and treat cancer.