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Cancer Treatment beyond surgery: Role of medicine
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Cancer Treatment beyond surgery: Role of medicine

With more than 18 million people across the globe, being diagnosed with Cancer every year, it has become one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Over the decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases, however, we cannot ignore the fact that there has been a noticeable decrease in cancer-related mortality over this period. From being considered incurable to being treated surgically and now having multiple modalities available for its management, beating cancer is not as challenging as it used to be. In this blog, we have elaborated on the role of medicine in treating cancer and various treatment modalities that are available nowadays, with the help of an expert from the best hospital in Gurugram.

Cancer Treatment: Role of medicine (Medical Oncology)

Cancer is a progressive disease in which the healthy cells in your body develop certain genetic changes that lead to their uncontrollable growth. The cancerous cells, so formed, have a tendency to multiply and metastasize to different areas of the body, giving rise to life-threatening complications. Medical oncology involves the use of various medicines for disrupting the growth and development of such cells. These medicines either directly target the malignant cells and kill them, or create an unsuitable environment where they cannot thrive. It can be used as a primary treatment modality or in combination with surgery or radiation therapy, to enhance the outcomes.

Medical Oncology: Modalities that revolutionized Cancer Care

At present, there are 4 different modalities, that involve the use of medicines for targeting, killing or curbing the growth of cancer cells in the body. These include:

Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is one of the most popular cancer treatment which uses certain drugs to target and kill cancer cells. These can be administered directly into the bloodstream or taken orally as per the prescribed dosage. Certain drugs may also be injected into the abdominal cavity to treat cancers affecting the stomach and surrounding structures. Experts specialising in cancer treatment in Gurugram suggest that chemotherapy is recommended for patients with recurrent cancer or those with metastatic cancer, and even before/after surgery or with radiotherapy, as an alternative procedure.

Chemotherapy may be used for 3 different goals, based on which it is classified into the following 3 types:

  • Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy - The therapy is given prior to the surgical removal of a tumour with the aim of reducing its size and making it possible to excise the same with higher success rate. This allows the doctors to remove tumours that are otherwise difficult to operate upon.
  • Adjuvant Chemotherapy - The therapy is given after the surgical removal of the tumours with the aim of destroying any malignant cells that might have been left behind. This is done to bring down the risks of recurrence
  • Palliative Chemotherapy -The therapy is given to slow down the spread of cancer cells so as to alleviate various symptoms that are associated with it, such as pain/ swelling. It may also help in life prolongation and improvement in quality of life.
  • Targeted Therapy - Targeted therapy, as the name suggests, targets the faulty genes or protein that are responsible for causing the uncontrollable growth of cancerous cells. This is done by detecting the specific genes that are to be destroyed and then using a single or combination of drugs to do it. Targeted therapy can help to bring the abnormal cell division under control by cutting off the supply of essential nutrients to the cancerous cells, leading to their starvation and eventually death. It also helps to destroy the cancerous cells from within by administering certain toxins to them. Targeted therapy is broadly classified into the following two types:
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Small molecule drugs

Immunotherapy - Immunotherapy works by triggering your immune response, making it strong enough to fight the malignant cells. The therapy can slow down the pace at which cancer spreads, as well as kill the malignant cells. Immunotherapy can be classified into several different types, which include:

  • Monoclonal antibodies - This involves the use of artificially created antibodies for boosting immune response.
  • Non-specific immunotherapies - This involves the use of non-specific immunomodulating agents for triggering the patient’s immune response.
  • Oncolytic therapy - It uses altered viruses for targeting and destroying malignant cells.
  • T-cell therapy - This is done with the help of T-cells, i.e. a type of immune cells.
  • Vaccines - Cancer vaccine helps to fight cancer cells. These are foreign proteins that are injected into the body of the patient to trigger the immune response.

Hormone Therapy - Hormone therapy works against malignancies that require certain hormones for their growth and development. These include breast cancer and prostate cancer, endometrial cancer etc. The therapy either increases the production of hormones that help to destroy the cancerous cells and curb their growth or decrease the production of hormones that promote growth of abnormal cells. Hormone therapy works in the following three ways:

  • It restricts the growth of certain hormones that are important for the growth of the cancerous cells
  • It supports the production of hormones that curtail cancerous growths

If you wish to know more about cancer and various treatments available for it, consult the top oncologists in Gurugram, today.

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