What are the treatment methods available for cancer?

There is no single treatment for cancer, doctors have a range of options available and must decide which is best for the patient. They will often combine several types of treatment for greater effect, taking into account all sorts of factors.

1) Surgery

Surgery is complete or partial removal of tumor. It is used in several ways to help cancer patients. It provides the best chance to stop many types of cancer, and it also plays a part in diagnosing, staging, and supporting cancer treatment. Several types of surgery are helpful to people with cancer. Some surgeries are used in combination with other types of treatment. The goal of surgery is to eliminate the cancer or in the case of advanced disease, relieve symptoms and to achieve long term remission. The goal is to

  • Remove primary cancer
  • Leave an area around the cancerous a\site that is free of cancer cells. Therefore, no cancer cells are present in the tissue surrounding the surgery site.
  • Remove nearby lymph nodes. The nodes are then examined to see if they contain any cancer cells. This is important to correctly stage the cancer. Having surgery for cancer is different for every patient, depending on the type of surgery, type of cancer, and the patient's health.

2) Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses precisely targeted high energy rays to kill cancer cells. It does this by damaging a cell's internal components (molecule), causing the cells to commit suicide by apoptosis. Radiotherapy is usually required for one of the Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Centers following reasons:

  • As a stand alone treatment to cure cancer.
  • To shrink a cancer before surgery
  • To reduce risk of cancer coming back after surgery.
  • To complement chemotherapy
  • To control symptoms and improve quality of life if a cancer is too advanced to cure.
Radiation therapy is given through different methods, depending on the types of cancer, the location of the cancer, and the patient's health. Sometimes, radiation therapy is used in combination with other treatments.

The following are some of the different types of radiation therapies.

Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): This external radiotherapy delivering linear accelerator (2100ix) is unique in the sense that it delivers traditional radiation therapy, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), IGRT and stereo-tactic radiotherapy (bloodless neurosurgery) with ultra precision. IGRT(for the first time in South Asia at CBCC) combines the power of inherent imaging devices with treatment delivery to enable radiation oncologist to visualize and target tumors daily before radiation while delivering the treatment, this ensures sparing of normal tissues thereby reducing side effects to minimum.

Gating: Respiratory gating is non-invasive technique for dealing with tumor motion during radiation therapy treatment for cancer. The computer-aided technique synchronizes the radiation therapy with the patient's breathing pattern. This enables doctors to safely treat lung and other cancers of the chest and abdomen with radiation dose to adjacent organs.

Stereo-tactic Radio Surgeries (SRS): The linear accelerator is equipped with the latest SRS package, which enables it to deliver pencil beam to the small lesions in the brain. This precise treatment can be given in a single sitting (SRS) or a multi-fractionated fashion (Stereo-tactic Radio Therapy-SRT) depending on the type and size of lesion in brain. This linac based SRS is getting more adopted now because it obviates the need for major neurosurgeries in brain tumors and is painless and bloodless.

3) Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy reaches all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. The oncologist will recommend a treatment plan for each individual. Specific treatment will be based on:

  • Your overall health and medical history
  • The type and stage of the cancer
  • Your tolerance for specific medications and procedures
  • Expectations for the course of disease Your opinion or preference
The frequency, dosing and choice of chemotherapies are determined by a number of factors (e.g. the extent of cancer, the patient's response to and recovery from chemotherapy, the overall health of the patient).

The oncologist will also determine how long and how often you will have chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy treatments are often given in cycles; a treatment for a period of time, followed by a recovery period, then another treatment.