Cancer Treatments

Chemotherapy The most common approach used today in the treatment of cancer is chemotherapy. Small cell cancer is generally the most receptive to this type of treatment, particularly when some of those cancer cells have begun to migrate to other parts of the body. The reason that this type of treatment is so effective is … Continue reading “Cancer Treatments”

Chemotherapy

The most common approach used today in the treatment of cancer is chemotherapy. Small cell cancer is generally the most receptive to this type of treatment, particularly when some of those cancer cells have begun to migrate to other parts of the body. The reason that this type of treatment is so effective is because the chemicals used have the ability to stop the spread of cancer in the body, target the malignant cells, and destroy them. The drawback to chemotherapy is that because other cells in the body will also reproduce rapidly, the chemicals may unintentionally target healthy cells going through their normal processes. This results in many of the known side effects of the treatment.

Hair follicles, mucous membranes including the mouth and gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow are all examples of there normal cells tend to reproduce rapidly. Therefore these are all places where the effects of chemotherapy could be detrimental rather than positive. Of course, because these areas contain healthy cells they will be able to regenerate themselves over a short period of time. Yes, this is a con to chemotherapy – but it’s worth it to experience some temporary lost cells if the end-result is the elimination of cancerous cells in the body. For this reason, a patient should always get complete information from their medical team regarding the pros and cons of treatment, as well as a complete disclosure about the associated side affects and risks.

Here is a list of side effects that are commonly experience throughout chemotherapy:

  • Extreme Nausea
  • Occasional Vomiting
  • Sporadic Hair Loss
  • Intense Fatigue and sometimes Anemia
  • Unexplained Mouth Sores
  • Alterations in the senses, such as taste and smell
  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Occasional Acute Memory Loss
  • Nerve Damage or Temporary Loss of Sensation
  • Increased Bleeding

Chemotherapy is a treatment method that offers many potential side effects, that is true. However most cancer patients will opt to participate in the treatment quite simply because there is no better option for treating most types of cancer. The newest cancer drugs are more effective in their cell targeting, and some tend to cause less intense side-effects in patients. When the side effects are present, medical professionals also have an entire selection of medications that can safely be used to treat those issues. There are drugs that will combat nausea, boost the immune system to decrease fatigue, and actively support the patient through the process of Chemotherapy.

Most physicians can also recommend natural alternatives to medications used to treat side effect, including nutritional management and herbal supplements. You may want to take some time to research natural remedies online, but be sure to discuss any of these options with your oncologist prior to beginning their use. With a bit of careful investigation, you can get your life back while participating in chemotherapy!

Alternative Therapies

Nearly all cancer patients undergoing treatment for cancer will participate in some sort of alternative medicine to aid their treatment. This includes patients who are experiencing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. There are many different types of alternative treatments that can be used by patients, and when we look at the numbers to see that about 30 Billion Dollars per year are spent on these alternative therapies – well, there must be a good reason! Just as with any medical treatment, there are positives and negatives that need to be weighed by the patient prior to selecting a particular treatment option.

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that in order to keep your doctors aware of your activities, you must discuss these options prior to using them. Not to do that would be irresponsible and could potentially harm you or disrupt your cancer treatment plan.

Because many insurance programs do not cover the cost of alternative cancer therapy, it is crucial to investigate also the costs involved with alternative treatment methods. If you are not able to afford the treatment, then you probably will not participate in that alternative therapy. There might be other options you would like to investigate however.

Here are some of the more popular alternative therapies that patients use, with the consent of their medical team:

  • Self or Guided Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Biofeedback Techniques
  • Nutritional Therapy
  • Art, Music or Dance Therapy
  • Guided Imagery
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Exercise Programs

While most people offering these alternative therapy options for cancer patients, it is very important to investigate any option thoroughly before making a final decision. There are benefits and risks to every medical treatment, and you as the patient need to determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks for you.

We recommend that you take the following actions prior to participating in any alternative therapy method:

  • Consult with your medical team, they are the professionals.
  • Research the treatment method as much as possible.
  • Find online information about the treatment type, or even the provider..
  • Investigate the testing used to study the effects of the treatment.
  • Ask for patient referrals.
  • Consider several alternative therapies in order to ensure that you find the right option for your situation.

By investigating your options carefully, you are sure to find some type of alternative treatment to aid in your cancer program. You need to stay aware of your reactions to treatment, and consider stopping or modifying the treatment plan should you feel uneasy at any point. You can ask your doctor for recommendations and warnings to get a professional opinion on your treatment options.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is more commonly known as radiation therapy. Radiotherapy is generally considered to be the best way to quickly destroy and remove cancer cells from the body. The process of radiotherapy is completed by using very high-powered rays, similar to X-rays. Often the use of cobalt rays will be included for intensive radiotherapy. Radioactive iodine will sometimes be injected, or implanted in capsule form in order to enhance the use of radiotherapy in severe cancer cases.

The reason that radiotherapy is popular among medical professionals and patients is that it is very site specific. Unlike chemotherapy, which affects surrounding cells and other parts of the body, radiotherapy targets very specific cell formations. Once the cancer has been exposed to radiotherapy, there is a much lower chance of recurrence in that particular part of the body; this is one of the leading benefits of this type of cancer treatment.

Sometimes radiotherapy is used as a standalone cancer treatment. Other times, and more commonly, it will be used in combination with some form of chemotherapy.

There are few side effects to the use of radiotherapy in most patients, and generally the side effects occur in the immediate treatment area. They may include burned or sensitive skin, hair loss in the immediate treatment location or other skin rashes, etc. But again, these effects are not widespread as they are with chemotherapy. And, once the treatment is complete, the effects go away much more quickly than with other treatment options. Here are some of the common side effects:

  • Itchy Patches on the Skin
  • Tenderness of the Skin
  • Drying of the Skin
  • Hair loss in the immediate treatment area
  • Sporadic Nausea

There are more intense side effects that could potentially affect some patients, although the rate of occurrence is very low compared to the minor afflictions. They could include:

  • Nerve Damage
  • Skin thickening
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Urinary tract obstruction
  • Heart or lung damage
  • Spread of the original cancer, in rare cases.
  • Onset of infertility

Fifty percent of cancer patients will receive radiotherapy at some point in their treatment, either before or after surgery or in combination with chemotherapy to reduce tumor size. Radiation is effective at treating cancer occurring in any part of the body, especially the brain (where chemotherapy is ineffective).

Because there is a lower occurrence of any side effects, and because those side effects that do occur will be in very mild form most of the time, this treatment type is common. It’s important to question your medical professionals if you believe that your cancer treatment would benefit from the use of radiation. And, again be certain to get complete information regarding all associated risks and benefits in regard to your specific diagnosis.