Cancer is one of the scarier diseases out there, especially since there are so many forms of it and since it is so common. The good news is today there are a variety of treatments for cancer available, many of which are very effective. The bad news is, there still aren’t any cures, and even the best treatments for cancer may not work.
The problem with cancer is two-fold. First of all, it is your own cells that are effectively damaging you. Unlike a virus or bacteria, cancer cells are hard to target without damaging normal healthy cells. Treatments for cancer therefore are often hard on your body, and can be grueling experiences.
Many treatments for cancer are specific to the kind of cancer you may have. However, there are some cancer treatments that are common to most or all forms of the disease. The more famous is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer that combines the use of a number of medications, with the overall goal of targeting cells in your body that are multiplying rapidly. Cancer cells are multiplying rapidly, so they are hit hardest with this cancer treatment, however there are normal healthy cells that multiply rapidly as well; blood cells and hair cells are just two examples. It is for this reason that chemotherapy has so many harsh side effects, including hair loss, nausea, weakness, and anemia to name just a handful.
Radiation therapy is also sometimes an effective treatment for cancer. Radiation can likewise have a halting effect on growing cells, which may slow down your cancer’s growth enough to allow your immune system to get the upper hand in fighting it. Radiation therapy also has unpleasant side effects.
More common than any other treatment for cancer is a surgical removal of the cancer itself. This isn’t always an option, since the cancer may be in an area of the body impossible to reach without destroying vital organs. However, removing the cancer entirely is the most likely treatment for cancer to work, and is usually the first thing doctors will consider doing. There have been a number of advances in this area as well, and the surgical procedures are becoming more accurate, less invasive, and more effective.
More than anything, the best indication of whether or not your treatment for cancer is going to be effective is how early the cancer was detected. That is why it is especially important to see a doctor regularly. Mammograms, prostate exams, colonoscopies, and skin exams are all ways to help you catch a cancer in its earlier stages.