Treatments for cancer

What are the treatments for cancer?

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Several types of treatment are used, alone or in combination, to treat different cancers. The choice of those offered to you is made by several doctors during the multidisciplinary consultation meeting (RCP).

The main treatments are:

  • surgery,
  • radiotherapy,
  • drug treatments and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Surgery, Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, Immunotherapy, What Are the Differences?

Surgery and radiation therapy are local treatments for cancer, that is, they act locally on cancer cells in the affected organ or in the lymph nodes. Conventional chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapies are drug treatments that work systemically (with some exceptions), that is, they act on cancer cells throughout the body.

Radiation therapy and drug treatments are often used in addition to surgery to improve the chances of recovery. They can also be used alone. Cancer treatment is adapted according to each situation: each cancer is specific and requires appropriate management.

Response to cancer treatment

A complete response (remission) occurs when cancer goes away after a period of treatment. Doctors regularly monitor people who are being treated or who have been treated for cancer. This monitoring usually includes imaging tests and / or laboratory tests to monitor the response of the cancer to treatment and to quickly identify any cancer relapse.

Some cancers produce proteins which are detectable with inside the bloodstream. These substances are called tumor markers. One example is prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA levels rise in men with prostate cancer. Most of these tumor markers are not specific enough to be useful for screening (finding cancer before a person develops symptoms) or for diagnosing cancer, as many diseases other than cancer can cause cancer. appearance of these substances in the blood. However, tumor markers (together with PSA and most cancers antigen [CA] a hundred twenty-five for ovarian most cancers) can assist medical doctors verify a individual’s reaction to treatment. If the tumor marker was present before treatment, but is absent in a blood sample taken after treatment, the treatment was effective. If the tumor marker disappears after treatment and then reappears, it means that it is a recurrence.

The healing is obviously the most favorable outcome. Healing corresponds to the disappearance of the cancer and the absence of relapse over a long period of observation. In some forms of cancer, doctors believe that patients are cured when they have no recurrence for at least 5 years. With different forms, an extended length is needed earlier than the individual is taken into consideration cured.

In the event of a partial response, the size or extent of the cancer (for example, seen in imaging examinations such as x-rays, computed tomography [CT], and positron emission tomography [PET]) is reduced by more than half, although it is still visible on imaging. This type of response can decrease symptoms and prolong life, although the cancer eventually recurs in most cases. The duration of the response is judged by the time between the partial response and when the cancer begins to grow or spread again.

In some people, treatment may not give a full or partial response, but it may stop the cancer from growing or spreading and the patient may not have new symptoms for an extended period of time. This response is also considered to be beneficial. If the response is less positive, the tumor continues to grow or metastasizes despite treatment. A relapse occurs when cancer that had completely disappeared later reappears. The disease-free interval is the time between when the cancer goes away completely and when it comes back. The total survival time is the time between the diagnosis of cancer and the time of death.

Certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer or lymphomas (tumors of the lymph nodes), are said to be sensitive because they tend to respond well to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Other cancers, such as melanoma (a skin cancer) or malignant brain tumors, are said to be resistant because many of them do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Some tumors, such as many bowel and lung tumors, often respond to chemotherapy at first, but then become resistant despite continued treatment.

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