Cancer is disease in which there is abnormal growth of cells. They divide uncontrollably and destroy our body tissue. There are more than 100 different types of Cancer that are known to human beings. The branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Cancer is known as Oncology. There are three important components which are there to increase the survival rate in the patients –
1. Prevention is done by reducing the risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol.
2. The second component is diagnosis of cancer with the help of screening of common cancers.
3. Treatment is given according to the part which has affected your body and the impact that it is having.
Though there are no obvious causes of Cancer which means it can happen to anyone if they are away from risk factors. But there are some common causes. Some of them are –
1. Tobacco is the most common reason for Cancer death worldwide. It causes more than 20 percent death in human beings. It is associated with increased risk of cancer in mouth, lung, larynx, mouth, oesophagus, throat, bladder etc.
2. Alcohol is another main cause of Cancer. People who consume alcohol are at higher risk of Cancer of mouth, oesophagus, throat, liver and breast.
3. Approximately 5-10 percent of Cancers are due to inherited genetic defects from the family members.
Surgery is required to treat different types of cancer. After the surgery, each and every patient’s biopsy is done which determines if he/she requires chemotherapy/radiation therapy or not. Some of the different types of cancers which are solved by surgery are
1. Prostate cancer – It is a type of cancer which occurs in a man’s prostate. Prostate gland is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
2. Bladder cancer – It is a form of cancer which arises from the tissue of the urinary bladder. The most common symptom is blood in urine.
3. Breast cancer – this type of cancer develops in the breast tissue. You should get yourself treated if you notice a lump in the breast or bloody discharge from the nipple.
4. Brain tumor – Brain tumor can be cancerous when there is abnormal growth of cells.
5. Gastro-intestinal cancer – Cancer that affects our gastrointestinal tract and organs including esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestine, rectum etc.
There are two different types of Surgeries that are provided for Cancer. One of them is conventional surgery and the other is minimally invasive surgery.
1. Conventional surgery
A conventional surgery is divided into two stages. One is diagnostic and the other is staging. Diagnostic is done mainly with the help of biopsy. In the case of incisional biopsy, the affected area is removed for examination. In case of excisional biopsy, complete removal is done such as a mole or lump. After the biopsy is done, a pathologist examines the removed tissue with the help of a microscope. After the examination, detailed report is provided for the diagnosis. Then come the staging part. This is done to find out the size of the tumor and the areas where it has spread. In this process, lymph nodes near the cancer are removed. They are tiny organs which help us in fighting Cancer. The results that are obtained from these tests helps in giving the best suitable treatment.
1. Debulking – in some of the cases, it is difficult to remove the entire tumor. It might cause damage to the body. Debulking is the surgery which is used to remove as much of the tumor is required. For the remaining part, treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy are provided.
2. Palliation – this is the surgery that is given to get rid of side effects of a tumor. It helps in stopping of blood, blockage of bowel movement, pressure on a nerve cord etc.
Minimally invasive surgery
A minimally invasive surgery is preferred because there is no use of large incisions. The recovery time is less and the pain caused is of less intensity. Some of the commonly given minimally invasive surgeries are –
1. Laparoscopic surgery – in this surgery, use of a thin tube with camera is there which is known as a Laparoscope with the help of which small incisions are made. This surgical procedure is used for kidney, prostate, ovaries etc.
2. Laser surgery – in this type of surgery, a narrow beam of high intensity light is used which helps in removing the cancerous tissue.
3. Cryosurgery – this surgery is done to kill the abnormal cells. Freezing of cells is carried out with the help of liquid nitrogen.
4. Endoscopy – it is carried out by a thin flexible tube with a camera on the tip of the body known as endoscope. It may be inserted into the mouth, rectum or vagina.
1. Medical oncology
Medical therapy focuses on the treatment of Cancer with the help of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment of medical oncology.
Chemotherapy is the type of a cancer treatment which is treated with the help of drugs that prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing. Chemotherapy works by slowing off the diving cells or completely killing it. In chemotherapy, one or combination of drugs can be used depending on the severity of the disease. In healthy body, cells reproduce in a controlled manner but in case of cancer, there is abnormal growth of cells. Chemotherapy drugs can prevent cell division and trigger the killing of cancer cells. They also hinder the growth of new blood vessels. The drug can be given orally or can be injected directly into the vein.
Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are two more components of medical oncology. Immunotherapy is the use of immune system to battle Cancer. There are three categories of immunotherapy – active, passive or hybrid. Active immunotherapy points out our immune system to attack tumor cells by targeting tumor-associated antigens whereas passive immunotherapy enhances existing anti-tumor responses. Targeted therapy is a form of molecular medicine which blocks the growth of cancer cells. Molecules which are needed for carcinogenesis and tumor growth are interfered hindering their growth. This type of treatment is less harmful to normal cells.
2. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation to shrink the size of tumors and kill cancer cells. Some of the types of radiation that is used for cancer treatment are X-rays, gamma rays and charged particles. In external –beam radiation, radiation is applied by a machine outside the body and in internal radiation therapy radiations come from radioactive material that are placed in the body near cancer cells. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA. It can directly damage the DNA or with the help of charged particle within the cells that damage the DNA. It has nominal affect on the daily schedule of the patient. In this treatment, no hospital stay is required.
Cyberknife is a non-invasive frameless robotic radiosurgery system which is used to treat cancerous as well as non cancerous tumors. Cyberknife is a technique which is used to treat conditions throughout the body including prostate, lung, brain, spine, head, neck, pancreas, kidney etc. It is more accurate than standard radiotherapy although both methods are used for delivering radiotherapy.
There are two main elements of the Cyberknife. One of them is a robotic arm which allows the energy to be directed at any part of the body from any direction and the other is the radiation produced from a small linear particle accelerator. This robotic design coupled with the real-time imaging enables the Cyberknife system to deliver a maximum dose of radiation directly to the tumor.
Biopsy is done in most of the cases but surgery is suggested to those patients who are not getting relief from other methods.
It is done to remove tumor that has already spread to the lymph nodes and to prevent tumor recurrence.
Chemotherapy given before surgery is known as neo adjuvant therapy and chemotherapy given after therapy is known as adjuvant therapy.
The recovery process totally depends on the rehabilitation programs which are very critical.