Content - Treatment

Treatment

The course of cancer can be influenced by different therapies. Generally, patients are treated with a combination of therapies. Many studies in oncology investigate the effect new treatments have; for example, surgical procedures, irradiation or the usage

 

Surgical procedures

Tumors and possibly nearby lymph nodes are removed through a surgery.

 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy destroys, with so called cytostatic, the genetic material of the cancer cell or hinders its growth by using cellular toxin. Such drugs block the division and spread of the cancer cells and thereby the growth of the tumor. Common side effects of chemotherapy occur because the drugs damage all fast growing cells, including roots of hair, mucous membrane and bone marrow. However, healthy cells are better able to repair these cell damages more quickly than cancer cells are.   

 

Targeted therapy

Targeted drugs constrain the growth of cancer cells by attacking molecules that play an important role in the development and growth of the tumor. Monoclonal antibodies attach themselves to specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells. Through this process, an immune defense against the cancer is triggered or cancer destroying substances are able to enter. So called small molecules drugs block specific signals of cancer cells and prevent its growth. (Antiangiogenese-) therapies constrain the new formation of blood vessels that the tumor needs in order to grow. This therapy tries to destroy the cancer cell by using genes.      

 

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy combines treatments like vaccinations with defense stimulating or cell regulating proteins, in order to trigger the body’s immune system to fight the tumor. There are also vaccination-therapies developed that enable the immune system to better detect and kill the tumor cells.  

 

Hormone deprivation therapy

Specific cancer cells need hormones for their division and survival. Such tumors respond often during several years to drugs that decrease the production or effect of sex hormones, such as estrogen or testosterone, and therefore constrain the tumors growth. Suchlike hormone deprivation therapies are often used to treat breast, uterus and prostate cancer.

  

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is an application of radiation to the cancer affected tissues. Healthy tissues might also be affected by this therapy; however, tumor tissues are more radiation sensitive than the surrounding healthy tissues. Radiation damages the genetic material and disturbs the metabolism of the cancer cells. Moreover, it destroys the cancer cells or constrains their ability to repair or proliferate.  Neoadjuvant radiotherapy aims to reduce the size of the tumor for a following surgery. Adjuvant radiotherapy aims to keep the results after a surgery and to destroy microscopic small tumors.

 

Chemo-radiotherapy

Patients in a good overall condition with potentially curable tumors are treated simultaneously or sequentially with a combination of chemotherapy and Radiotherapy. Both processes strengthen each other’s effect.

 

Radiosurgery

It is possible to destroy small tumors directly with high-dose irradiation. Particularly brain tumors are treated with this therapy.

 

Pain treatment

Pain often occurs during cancer diseases. The patient’s quality of life can be increased through an effective pain treatment. It is important to know that pain does not have to be endured. The medication with painkillers, for example with opioids, can be applied to the patient’s discomfort. Problems with pain can often be solved or reduced with a professional therapy.

 

Supportive therapy

This is a therapy that aims to prevent and treat complications and side effects of a cancer therapy. An example would be the medication of an antiemetic against vomitus. However, supportive therapy can also mean to avoid a treatment.