For as long as modern cancer care has existed, chemotherapy has been the
traditional treatment method to combat this unfortunate disease. Using
a variety of drugs, chemotherapy acts against cancer cells by killing
them after they divide. By doing this, chemotherapy prevents the growth
and spread of these dangerous cells.
In recent years, alternative treatment methods have emerged, the most reliable
of which are practiced at Saint Francis Healthcare. Such medical treatments
include targeted therapies and immunotherapy, and it is important to discuss
each of their merits.
Using strong chemicals, chemotherapy is designed to kill the fastest growing
cells in cancer patients, which are the cancer cells themselves. Additionally,
this treatment acts to relieve the many adverse symptoms of cancer. For
example, chemotherapy decreases the size of tumors that cause pain and
complications in patients. Chemotherapy is used to treat a wide range
of cancers via a variety of delivery systems.
Immunotherapy is a treatment designed to fight cancer cells using the body’s
own immune system. There is an evident advantage simply based on the rationale
behind this treatment. Rather than fight cancer with an external source,
immunotherapy utilizes the human body itself as a weapon against the disease,
making use of the patient’s natural defense system. Immunotherapies
can consist of modified viruses or cells that, once altered, are reintroduced
into the body to fight the specific cancer.
Targeted therapies fight cancer cells on a molecular basis. While chemotherapy
attacks the entire cell, targeted therapies attack the molecules of the
cell that cause growth and spreading. These treatments are beneficial
due to their prevention of cancer-cell proliferation. Doctors may choose
to implement a targeted therapy based on the type of cancer, as different
cancers grow and spread in different ways.
Chemotherapy remains the most common treatment and for good reason. However,
other treatment methods have great potential for success. In fact, many
healthcare professionals have implemented treatment methods that pair
chemotherapy with another form of care. Accompanying chemotherapy with
surgery or either of the aforementioned alternatives allows multiple treatments
to tackle the same disease, increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
Each cancer case, though, must be assessed on an individual basis, and
the proper treatment strategy should be decided based on the stage of
the cancer, the patient’s preference and a series of additional factors.