There are various types of treatment for cancer and doctors often combine several types of treatment depending on the patient’s age, history and lifestyle to get greater effect. This page presents some main types of cancer treatment.
Surgery is a common treatment to remove tumours. Recently, surgical techniques have advanced and keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) or robotic surgery are now being done in some operations. They may also have chemotherapy – either before or after surgery – and/or radiotherapy or other treatments.
To damage the molecules inside cancer cells such as DNA and proteins, radiotherapy uses precisely targeted high-energy rays. Around forty per cent of cancer patients employ this therapy to treat their cancer or to relieve symptoms.
Chemotherapy is employed to kill cancer cells or them growing – by treating them with drugs that interfere with the process of cell division. In another word, it damage the proteins involved or damage the DNA itself.
However, chemotherapy also affects healthy cells and causes side effect such as sickness and hair loss. Researchers are now developing ‘smart drugs’ such as erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa)which cause fewer effects.
Hormones are employed in some types of cancer treatment. For example, oestogen, a female sex hormone, encourages some types of breast cancer to grow faster. And to stop some cancers growing and even kill them, doctors adjust hormone levels with drugs. The breast cancer drug tamoxifen and the prostate cancer drug abiraterone based on the underlying principle of hormone therapy are a great success victory and saving thousands of lives every year.
Immunotherapy is a therapy that employ the power of the immune system which protects us from infections by recognising ‘foreign’ invaders such as bacteria and viruses and destroying them.
There are many ways to approach immunotherapy such as drugs or vaccines. A number of antibody-based drugs that trigger including trastuzumab Herceptin) and rituximab (Mabthera) the immune system to kill cancer cells are currently in use. Or vaccines that stimulate a patient’s immune system to recognise cancer cells, for example, telovac for treating pancreatic cancer are being tested.
Gene therapy is is a new type of treatment designed to repair or replace damaged genes in cancer cells, causing them to die because gene faults that inherited or acquired during our lifetime.either are a cause of cancer
Gene therapy is in the phase of trial and now it is not widely widely available for cancer patients. It is hoped to be an effective treatment for the disease in future.