Despite the significant advancements of medicine throughout the years, many people still dread a cancer diagnosis because of a belief that it cannot be cured. This misconception has led to some people foregoing treatment until it is too late. While it is true that developing treatment for cancer has progressed slowly, there is no doubt that there are many options available for patients today depending on the type and severity of their cancer diagnosis.
Past treatments for cancer
The earliest medical procedure done in the hope of curing cancer was surgically removing tumors. In the past, there was very little information about the nature of cancer metastasis, which made surgery less likely to be effective when cancer had already spread to other organs in the body. When new knowledge about how cancer spreads became available, doctors were then able to develop systemic treatments used either before or after surgery to destroy cancer cells. These methods made it possible for surgery to be less mutilating especially in treating some types of cancer.
Present treatments for cancer
One of the most common treatments for all types of cancer is chemotherapy. Developing chemotherapy drugs began after World War II when rapid research was conducted to discover agents that can destroy cancer cells by damaging their DNA. The 1960s became the era of chemotherapy, but the many side effects of this treatment make it difficult for patients.
Another treatment for cancer today is radiation. It has proven effective in reducing tumor growth and is used together with chemotherapy. A significant advancement in treating cancer came about by combining different types of chemotherapy drugs using a single agent. For specific types of cancer, there are additional treatment options available. Lung cancer treatment may include immunotherapy in addition to radiation and chemotherapy. Immunotherapy involves using substances that stimulate or suppress the patient’s immune system; thus helping the body fight cancer. Additional treatment options for cancer include hormone treatment and targeted therapy.
Future treatments for cancer
Many organizations and medical institutions around the world dedicate their time to experimenting and researching new treatment options for cancer. Some of the most promising experimental cancer treatments include the following:
- Gene therapy. In a nutshell, this type of treatment involves introducing particular types of enzymes to cancer cells making them more susceptible to chemotherapy agents.
- Non-invasive cancer treatment. There are many different types of non-invasive treatments for cancer. Most of these are still in experimental stages. The central premise is to find a way to treat cancer, without removing any tissue. One example is injecting the patient with nano particles that are implanted into the cancer tissue. Radio waves are then used to heat these particles and destroy the cancer tissue.
- Hyperthermia therapy. Another experimental treatment for cancer is the application of heat to the entire body, or in a localized area affected by the disease. Intense heat will rapidly kill cancer cells within a tumor.
Many new treatment methods are still in early clinical stages, but scientists and doctors are hopeful that when the time comes, patients can have new treatment options available that will not only be more effective but also less invasive.