Treatments for Cancer
The single most important factor when your clinicians are determining the best treatment for your cancer is the stage at which your cancer invasion is detected. Clearly the earlier the detection of that primary tumour the more conservative the treatment can be and the higher the degree of success from that treatment. Oncologists have a difficult balance to achieve between when considering the appropriate reaction to the cancer and the desire to achieve favourable outcomes whilst preserving healthy tissue. This is the essence of most cancer claims: that specialist practitioners are denied the possibility of treating the cancer conservatively and must either approach treatment with an aggressive methodology or sadly, sometimes can only approach it with palliative or life prolonging treatment, as the window for curative treatment has past.
It is often a surprise to many people to see the contrast between the historical progress of cancer medical research and knowledge in the last 75 years compared to the previous 2000 years. Almost all of our treatments (with the possible exception of radical surgery) are developments of the late 20th century and early 21st. It is important to remember, therefore, that they are all therefore, treatments that are still very early developments and the state of scientific knowledge is, while advancing all the time, still in its infancy.
However, it is now a truism, that, “cancer need not be terminal” and that these treatments are, every day, becoming increasingly nuanced, targeted and effective. The early years of the 21st century are no exception to this progress with great initiatives in biological and hormonal therapy giving clinicians better and more site specific treatment options.
Typically available treatments then, do differ according to the site specificity of the cancer, however, generally these include;
1 - Surgery
It would be amiss not to count surgical intervention as a front line strategy for cancer treatment. A primary tumour can be removed with great precision and doing so can mean that the process of spreading and invasion of neighbouring tissue can be avoided altogether. Some unaffected tissue is nearly always the victim of surgery as a there is a surgical desire to have “clean margin” between the cancerous cells and its unaffected neighbours. Surgery can also of course, be used to control cancer which cannot necessarily be removed because of its location. If the tumour is impacting other organs it may be possible to simply keep the size of the tumour under control to improve the quality of life or even perhaps prolong it.
2 - Radiotherapy
Designed to damage the cells of the malignant tumour with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. Radiotherapy or nuclear medicine has become a sophisticated tool in the oncologist’s kit. The range and type of therapy is now myriad – as always it is worth mentioning the excellent website of the cancer research foundation and this is listed prominently in our accompanying pages on cancer resources.
3 - Chemotherapy
Know well known the process of chemotherapy is an attempt to kill the cancerous cells with cytotoxic medication. The process is far more targeted than it has been historically with many cytotoxic medications now available which target site specific cancers more effectively than the wide spectrum cytotoxins deployed in the not too distant past. Nonetheless, the side effects of chemotherapy and living with prolonged chemotherapy either for curative or for life prolonging or control purposes is a process that requires great preparation and care.
4 - Hormone Treatment
The use of hormonal therapy is relatively new but very effective. The theory surrounding the treatment is that some cancers utilise the body’s hormones in order to ensure their own growth. By manipulating the way that these hormones bind or communicative in the system it is possible to deny these hormones to the cancer. The methodology is particularly useful in cancers such as prostate, ovarian, womb, breast and some kidney cancers.
5 - Biological Therapy
Cancer is a form of deviation in the process of normal cell construction and division. That deviation from the normal process allows errors or damage in the dna to endlessly replicate. The body has all manner of control mechanisms to stop this process. These processes ensure that cells with dna damage or either repaired or they are forced into a process called programed cell death (apoptosis) this process is simply a biological methodology for ensuring that cells that are beyond repair do not get to replicate. Cancer however, has certain characteristics that allow these bodily processes to be avoided. Biological Therapy is means of once again activating the body itself to detect and destroy these cells or simply – to see through cancers disguise.
It is because of the effectiveness of these treatments that cancer is now a treatable condition and the increasingly expert and multidisciplinary approach to cancer care that it is so frustrating when referrals for cancer diagnosis are frustrated or delayed. Applebys cancer team have an industry wide reputation for the quality of our representation in these claims and we are waiting to hear your story.
Don’t go through this alone, let us stand with you.