The study of cancer is called oncology. A doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care to cancer patients is an oncologist. Treatments in oncology can be classified into three major categories: radiation oncology, medical oncology, and surgical oncology.
A radiation oncologist might be able to help if you have cancer.
Radiation oncology is a type of medicine that uses “radiation therapy” to kill cancer cells by focusing high-energy waves on your body.
Based on the type and stage of your cancer and other health conditions you have, your doctor will decide if it’s right for you.
There are many doctors and health experts on a cancer care team.
A radiation oncologist is your main doctor for radiation therapy.
Radiation oncologists work with a variety of medical professionals, including:
Radiation therapy damages the genetic material of cancer cells to kill or slow them down.
Nearly half of cancer patients receive it.
One of these types of radiation therapy may be recommended by your doctor:
Many types of cancer can be treated with external beam radiation therapy, including breast, colorectal, esophageal, head, neck, lung, and prostate cancers.
Cancers that are treated with external beam radiation therapy can also be treated with brachytherapy.
Examples include head and neck cancers, breast cancers, and prostate cancers.
Cervix and eye cancers are also treated with brachytherapy.
Radioactive iodine (I-131) is a form of systemic radiation therapy that can treat some thyroid cancers.
Another type of radiation therapy is targeted radionuclide therapy, which can be used to treat advanced prostate cancer or gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs).
Medical oncology is the study, prevention, and treatment of cancer.
The job of a medical oncologist is to treat cancer patients with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
An oncologist will work with other doctors to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Your cancer diagnosis will be explained to you, including its type and stage.
They will also help you manage your cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
After you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’ll probably see a medical oncologist.
A medical oncologist is usually your first step in the cancer treatment process.
They can help you understand your diagnosis and the timeline for your cancer treatment.
Also, you should see a medical oncologist if you have any questions.
Surgical oncology is the practice of treating cancer with surgery.
Its primary objective is to remove harmful tumors from your body.
In addition to identifying cancer, surgical oncologists can determine if the disease has spread to other parts of your body.
An oncologist is a doctor who studies, prevents, and treats cancer.
In conjunction with your primary care doctor, they develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Surgical oncologists perform surgeries to treat cancer.
They are responsible for removing cancerous tumors and surrounding tissue.
They also perform procedures called biopsies which tell if you have cancer and the severity of it.
Even though surgery isn’t right for every type of cancer, it is an effective treatment option for many types.
Surgical oncology might be recommended if you have cancerous cells in your:
Breast cancer is caused by abnormal cells that grow out of control.
The cells may also travel to parts of your body where they are not usually found.
This is known as metastatic cancer.
Breast cancer usually begins in either your milk-producing glands (called lobular carcinoma) or the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (called ductal carcinoma).
It can spread from your breast to nearby lymph nodes or travel through your bloodstream to other organs.
Cancer can spread to other tissues around your breast, such as your skin or chest wall.
Breast cancer spreads and grows at different rates depending on the type.
While some take years to spread beyond your breasts, others grow quickly.
Breast cancer symptoms include:
Breast cancers can be classified into several types:
This type hasn’t spread beyond the duct or lobule where it originated.
This is ductal carcinoma in the earliest stages (stage 0).
The disease hasn’t spread yet to the milk ducts, and is therefore curable.
It can become invasive if you don’t treat it.
Most of the time, it can be cured.
This is only found in the lobules that produce breast milk.
This isn’t a true cancer, but it increases your chances of getting breast cancer later.
Make sure you get regular mammograms and breast exams if you have this condition.
Invasive cancers happen when the cancer has spread or invaded the adjacent breast tissue. These invasive cancers include:
This cancer starts In milk ducts. It penetrates the duct wall and invades the fatty tissue of the breast. It’s the most prevalent form, accounting for 80% of all invasive cancer cases.
Invasive lobular carcinoma begins in the lobules but spreads to surrounding tissues or other areas of the body. About 10% of invasive breast cancers occur in this manner. Some subtypes of this cancer are:
Less common types include:
Lung cancer develops in the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body.
Even though it’s the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., it’s also one of the easiest to prevent by not smoking and avoiding other people’s secondhand smoke.
Almost always, the disease begins in the spongy, pinkish gray walls of the lungs’ airways (called bronchi or bronchioles) or air sacs (called alveoli).
It is estimated that there are more than 20 kinds of lung cancer.
There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small-cell lung cancer and small-cell lung cancer.
The most common type of NSCLC is adenocarcinoma.
About 40% of lung cancers are adenocarcinomas.
People who smoke or who used to smoke are more likely to develop them.
It’s also the leading type of lung cancer among nonsmokers.
Women are more likely to get it than men.
Those who suffer from this tend to be younger than those suffering from other types of cancer.
Lymph nodes, bones, or organs such as the liver can become affected by adenocarcinoma.
A squamous cell carcinoma usually begins in the lung’s largest branches, called the central bronchi.
30% of lung cancers are of this type, and it’s more common in men and smokers.
A cavity may form inside the tumor.
The larger airways are often affected.
You may cough up blood.
Squamous cell carcinoma can also spread to lymph nodes, bones, and other organs, such as the liver.
A large-cell carcinoma is a type of cancer with large cells that usually starts along the edges of the lungs.
They make up 10%-15% of lung cancers, which is rarer than adenocarcinomas or squamous cell carcinomas.
Tumors of this type grow faster and usually spread to nearby lymph nodes and distant parts of the body.
The disease is extremely aggressive in this form.
The disease usually begins in the central bronchi.
Most people who develop it are smokers.
Symptoms rarely appear before its spread.
In many cases, it spreads to the liver, bones, and brain.
Small-cell lung cancer accounts for 10%-15% of lung cancer cases.
There are many factors that determine how someone with lung cancer will fare, including their lung cancer type, overall health, and how advanced the disease is when it is discovered.
The most common cause is smoking. Nearly 85% of cases are caused by smoking.
By quitting, you reduce your risk.
Ex-smokers are still slightly more likely to get it than non-smokers.
Other reasons also exist.
Certain genetic flaws may make some people more susceptible.
Secondhand tobacco smoke also contributes to the problem.
Smokers are 20% to 30% more likely to develop lung cancer than those who live in smoke-free homes.
Radiation therapy can also increase lung cancer risk.
Other chemicals can also be hazardous.
Working with asbestos or being exposed to uranium dust or radon, which is a radioactive gas, makes you more likely to get lung cancer, especially if you smoke.
In scarred lung tissue, such as that caused by scleroderma or tuberculosis, tumors may form.
These are called scar carcinomas.
People with pulmonary fibrosis or HIV infection are also at higher risk.
There is also some evidence that diet might affect your risk, but it’s not entirely clear yet.
Often, there are no symptoms in the early stages.
There are other red flags that can be linked to lung cancer, such as:
If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor. Other causes may exist.
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.
It produces most of the sperm-carrying semen.
This organ sits directly below your bladder and in front of your rectum.
The first section of urethra passes through the prostate, so if the gland is enlarged, urine or semen may not be able to pass through the urethra.
Malignant tumors of the prostate are known as prostate cancer.
The disease is less common before age 50, and experts believe that most elderly men have traces of it.
Prostate cancer is more prevalent in African American men, and death rates are higher than other races.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, after skin cancer.
Prostate cancer is rare in other parts of the world, such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
It is usually a slow-growing cancer, causing no symptoms until it has progressed to an advanced stage.
Most men with prostate cancer die from other causes, and many never find out that they have it.
When prostate cancer begins to grow quickly or spread outside the prostate, it becomes dangerous.
Early prostate cancer (found only in the prostate gland) can be treated successfully, with very good chances of survival.
About 85% of American men with prostate cancer are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.
Cancer that has spread beyond the prostate (such as to the bones, lymph nodes, and lungs) cannot be cured, but can be controlled for many years.
Most men whose prostate cancer becomes widespread can expect to live at least five years thanks to advances in treatment.
There are some men with advanced prostate cancer who live a normal life and die of another cause, such as heart disease.
Most men with prostate cancer are older. Around 80% of cases occur in men over 65, and less than 1% occur in men under 50.
African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to develop it.
The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but diet increases the risk.
Those who consume a lot of fat from red meat are most likely to develop prostate cancer.
Furthermore, eating meat may be harmful for another reason: high-temperature-cooked meat produces cancer-causing substances that affect the prostate.
A high prevalence of the disease is found in countries where meat and dairy products are consumed compared with those where rice, soybeans, and vegetables are the main food sources.
Hormones play a role as well.
The intake of fat increases testosterone levels in the body, and testosterone speeds the growth of prostate cancer.
Several job hazards have been identified.
Welders, battery makers, rubber workers, and those frequently exposed to cadmium seem to be more likely to develop prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is also more likely if you don’t exercise.
Several medications may lower the risk of prostate cancer, including aspirin, finasteride (Proscar), and dutasteride (Avodart).
It isn’t proven that you can prevent prostate cancer.
However, you can do a few simple things to lower your risk.
Maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
Here are some steps you can take:
Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, help prevent DNA damage in your cells.
DNA damage has been linked to cancer.
The antioxidant lycopene, in particular, is believed to lower the risk of prostate cancer.
Foods containing lycopene include:
Ejaculating more, whether through sex, masturbation, or wet dreams, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Doctors aren’t sure why it works, but they believe it might help move potentially irritating substances from the prostate.
Prostate cancer symptoms include:
The long, tubular digestive tract resides inside your abdominal cavity.
In the second part of this tube, the large intestine, there is a colon, which is between 4 feet and 6 feet long, and a rectum, which is only 4 inches to 6 inches long.
Small tumors, called polyps, can germinate in the inner lining of the colon.
About a quarter of all Americans older than 50 will have at least one colorectal polyp.
Polyps in the lining of the intestinal tract are the most common cause of colorectal cancer.
At least one type of polyp is known to be precancerous, but the majority are benign.
This type is known as adenomatous polyps.
Polyp size correlates with cancer development.
Less than 1 centimeter polyps have a slightly greater than 1% chance of becoming cancer, but those 2 centimeters in diameter or larger have a 40% chance.
The incidence of cancer is about 5%.
Colorectal cancer is usually caused by polyps in glandular tissue of the intestinal lining.
When colorectal cancer is diagnosed and treated early, the disease is highly curable, with a five-year survival rate of about 90%.
Cancer can spread directly through the bowel wall to surrounding lymph nodes, tissues, and organs, as well as into the bloodstream if the tumor grows.
Successful treatment becomes more difficult once the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
Five-year survival rates range from 11% to 87%, depending on how advanced the disease is.
Each year, approximately 135,000 cases of colon and rectal cancer are diagnosed. Among people over the age of 50, colorectal cancer poses a special concern.
Although diagnosis is often possible at an early stage, many people delay seeking medical care because they are embarrassed or afraid of symptoms related to their bowels.
Risks increase markedly after the age of 50, and continue to rise with age.
Colorectal cancer has no known cause. It is, however, associated with some risk factors.
Certain diseases are strongly associated with colon cancer.
High-risk individuals include people with a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer, inflammatory diseases of the colon such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and cancers of the pancreas, breast, ovaries, or uterus.
Colorectal cancer susceptibility is at least partly determined by genetics, as with any cancer.
Genetic conditions may be inherited, including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), MYH-associated polyposis (MAP), Gardner’s syndrome, Turcot’s syndrome, Peutz-Jagher’s syndrome, and juvenile polyposis.
Unless treated, these individuals are at high risk of developing colorectal cancer because they develop colon polyps at an early age.
It is inherited from generation to generation and leads to colon cancer.
Other cancers associated with this disease include endometrial, ovarian, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, kidney, ureter, brain, and bile duct.
Diet may also increase the risk of colorectal cancer, although the cause-and-effect relationship is unclear.
A high fruit and vegetable intake seems to reduce the risk.
Animal fat and protein have been implicated in the promotion of colorectal cancer in numerous studies, but researchers are cautious about drawing any firm conclusions.
While some studies indicate that regularly consuming red meat, which is high in saturated fat and protein, increases risk, others do not.
While some analysts blame fat, others blame protein.
There are also those who argue that it’s not the fat and protein themselves, but how they are cooked.
Fats and proteins cooked at high temperatures — especially when broiled and barbecued — can produce a host of potentially carcinogenic substances linked to colorectal cancer.
Chlorine — which is commonly used to purify drinking water in small amounts — may increase the risk of colorectal cancer when exposed in large quantities.
Asbestos exposure can be harmful for the colon due to its role in the formation of polyps.
Treatments such as ureterosigmoidostomy (for bladder cancer), and cholecystectomy (for gallbladder removal) have been implicated in increasing the risk of colon cancer.
Some studies suggest that bladder surgery can result in colon cancer, while other studies do not.
A previous case of colon cancer increases the risk of a second case, especially if the first was diagnosed before the age of 60.
Colon cancer is more likely to occur in people who smoke and drink more than four drinks per week.
People with a first-degree relative with colorectal cancer are at an increased risk for the disease.
If more than one first-degree relative has colon cancer, the risk increases.
Radiation increases cancer risk only in the radiated tissues.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world.
It is caused by abnormal cell changes in the outer layer of skin.
The disease can usually be cured, but because it affects so many people, it is a major health concern.
Most fair-skinned people living to age 65 are likely to develop at least one type of skin cancer.
By protecting your skin from the sun and ultraviolet rays, you can prevent the majority of skin cancers.
Over time, every malignant skin tumor will appear on the skin’s surface.
As a result, this is the only form of cancer that is almost always detected in its early, curable stages.
Skin cancers can be divided into two major groups: melanoma and nonmelanoma.
Nonmelanoma skin cancers are the most common and rarely life threatening skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.
The disease grows slowly, rarely spreads beyond the skin, is easily detected, and is usually curable.
Nearly three out of four cancers of the skin are basal cell carcinomas.
Squamous cell carcinomas are more aggressive and more likely to spread.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is a rare nonmelanoma skin cancer characterized by purple growths.
It is caused by a weakened immune system and may be more serious.
It most commonly affects elderly people and people with AIDS.
It is possible for noncancerous skin growths to become cancerous.
Actinic keratosis — crusty, red patches on sun-exposed skin that can be scratched off but grow back — are the most common.
The other type of skin cancer, melanoma, is potentially aggressive and life-threatening.
The disease can develop in dark skin tissue, such as a mole or birthmark, as well as in pigmented skin.
Typically, it shows up first on the head, neck, or between the shoulders and hips for men.
For women, it is more likely to appear on the arms and legs.
You may also find it on the palm of your hand, the sole of your foot, under a fingernail or toenail, in mucus linings (such as your mouth, vagina, or anus), and even in your eye.
When found and treated early, melanomas are usually curable.
But it grows faster than other types of skin cancer, and it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones and brain.
Once it has spread, it’s hard to treat and hard to cure.
The main cause of skin cancer is spending too much time in the sun.
The UV rays in sunlight can cause DNA damage in skin cells, which can lead to cancer.
X-rays, sunlamps, and tanning booths also emit UV rays that are harmful to skin.
People with fair skin who spend a lot of time outside are at greater risk of developing basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas due to continuous sun exposure.
Melanoma has been linked to blistering sunburns; even one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles your risk of developing it later.
Working around certain chemicals and other things known to cause cancer can increase the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, including:
Skin cancer can be cured if it is detected and treated quickly.
Your doctor will determine how to treat you depending on the type of skin cancer you have, the extent of its spread, and any other health issues you have.
Cancer cells can be removed, killed, or stopped from growing using one or more different methods:
You may be able to find a clinical trial if your usual treatment does not work or is hard for you.
In these studies, new ways to treat cancer could be found that are more effective or have fewer side effects.
It’s likely that you will develop a new skin cancer within a few years if you’ve already had a skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, so get your skin checked regularly to catch it early.
Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells in the brain.
Although such growths are popularly called brain tumors, not all brain tumors are cancer. Cancer is a term reserved for malignant tumors.
A malignant tumor grows and spreads aggressively, overwhelming healthy cells by consuming their blood and nutrients.
Malignant tumors can also spread to distant parts of the body.
Tumor cells, like all other cells in the body, require blood and nutrients in order to survive.
Benign tumors do not invade nearby tissues or spread to distant locations.
A benign tumor is generally less serious than a malignant tumor.
Nevertheless, a benign tumor can still cause problems by pressing on nearby tissue.
About six Americans out of every 1,000 have brain or nervous system tumors.
There are many different types of cells in the brain.
There are some types of brain cancer that occur when one kind of cell changes from its normal properties.
The transformed cells grow and multiply abnormally.
As these abnormal cells grow, they form a mass or tumor.
Because they start in your brain, these brain tumors are called primary brain tumors.
Primary brain tumors are most commonly gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors (medulloblastomas).
The term “glioma” refers to glioblastoma, astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, and ependymoma.
The vast majority of these are named after parts of the brain or types of brain cells from which they arise.
A metastatic brain tumor is made up of cancerous cells from a tumor elsewhere in the body.
The cells spread to your brain from another tumor through a process called metastasis.
Most brain tumors are of this type.
Most brain cancers have an unknown cause.
Various environmental toxins, radiation to the head, HIV, and cigarette smoking have all been linked to brain cancer.
In most cases, no specific cause can be determined.
To find out if you have a problem with your brain or brain stem, your doctor will ask you questions and perform a physical examination.
The doctor may perform a CT scan on your brain.
A CT scan is similar to an X-ray, but it shows more details in three dimensions.
A doctor will usually inject a dye into your bloodstream to highlight problems on the scan.
The doctor will follow up with an MRI scan if they think you have a tumor.
A routine lab test might also be done to check for other issues.
These tests include blood tests, electrolytes, and liver function tests.
They might run a blood or urine test if your mental state has been problematic to ensure drugs aren’t the cause.
In the event that your scans indicate you have brain cancer, the doctor will refer you to an oncologist.
A neuro-oncologist is a specialist in treating brain tumors, so if one is available in your area, you should see them.
Next, you need to confirm that you have cancer.
A sample of the tumor is usually taken and tested by doctors.
The procedure is called a biopsy:
A type of blood cancer, multiple myeloma is also known as Kahler’s disease.
Treatments can slow its spread and sometimes make symptoms go away, but there is no cure.
Antibodies are produced in the body by a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell.
These cells multiply incorrectly when you have multiple myeloma.
The plasma cells let too much protein (immunoglobulin) into your bones and blood.
The protein builds up in your body and damages your organs.
Blood cells in your bones are crowded out by plasma cells.
Additionally, they release chemicals that cause other cells to consume your bones.
Lytic lesions are weak areas created in your bones by this process.
In advanced multiple myeloma, plasma cells leak out of your bone marrow and spread throughout your body.
More organs are damaged as a result.
Multiple myeloma is one of many conditions that can affect your plasma cells.
Other conditions include:
You get this when your plasma cells produce too many copies of an antibody.
Multiple myeloma is a subtype of this particular disorder.
Another form, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, might increase your chances of developing multiple myeloma.
In contrast to multiple myeloma, this is characterized by only one unusually large plasma cell.
It can occur inside or outside of a bone.
It may also increase your risk of multiple myeloma.
As with multiple myeloma, this causes unusual plasma cells to grow in your bone marrow.
However, there are not nearly as many as the amount produced by multiple myeloma.
This is a type of monoclonal gammopathy and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
This cancer has plasma-like cells as well as lymphoid tissue.
The cause of multiple myeloma is unknown. However, you are more likely to develop it if:
You may not experience any symptoms early on.
Eventually, however, you might experience:
Based on genes in the tumors, multiple myeloma cases are classified as high, intermediate, or standard risk.
A doctor may decide to watch you closely rather than start treatment right away if you don’t have symptoms.
Your doctor will come up with a treatment plan for you if you have symptoms.
The goal of this program is to make you feel better and to provide you with the nutrition that you need.
If you have a high-risk case, you might consider joining a clinical trial for an existing or new treatment.
Researchers are searching for more effective medications.
An increase in white blood cells in the body causes leukemia, a type of blood cancer.
Those white blood cells suffocate your red blood cells and platelets, which your body needs for survival.
The extra white blood cells are not able to function properly.
Leukemia can cause different problems depending on its type.
In the early stages, you might not notice any symptoms.
Symptoms that might show up later include:
There is no exact cause for leukemia.
It is characterized by certain abnormal chromosomes, but the chromosomes aren’t responsible for causing leukemia.
Leukemia cannot be prevented, but certain factors may trigger it.
You may be at higher risk if you:
Lymphoma arises from the immune system’s immune cells that help combat infections, known as lymphocytes.
Lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body contain these cells.
Lymphoma causes lymphocytes to grow out of control.
Lymphoma is classified into two types:
There are different types of lymphocyte cells involved in non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma.
Different types of lymphoma grow at different rates and respond to different treatments.
The outlook for people with lymphoma can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease.
Your hematologist can determine which treatment is best for you based on your condition and stage.
Lymphoma differs from leukemia.
Both cancers start in a different type of cell.
Lymphoma begins in infection-fighting lymphocytes.
The blood-forming cells in bone marrow are the source of leukemia.
Additionally, lymphoma is not the same as lymphedema, which occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked.
In most cases, scientists do not know what causes lymphoma.
You may be more at risk if you:
The following are warning signs of lymphoma:
Some of these symptoms can also be warning signs of other illnesses.
Consult your hematologist to determine if you have lymphoma.
When cancer cells form on the inner surface of your stomach, you develop stomach cancer.
Tumors can develop from these cancerous cells.
The disease, also known as gastric cancer, usually grows slowly over many years.
Most people with stomach cancer are in their late 60s to late 80s.
The glandular tissue lining the stomach is the site of almost all stomach cancers (about 95%).
It is possible for the tumor to spread along the stomach wall or to grow directly through the wall, shedding cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Cancer can also spread to other body organs once it has spread beyond the stomach.
Different types of stomach cancer are classified according to the tissue in which they begin.
Adenocarcinomas — the most common form — begin in the glandular lining of the stomach.
Lymphomas are formed from lymphocytes, a type of blood cell in the immune system.
Sarcomas affect connective tissue (muscles, fats, and blood vessels).
Others include carcinoid, small cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Metastatic cancers from breast cancer, melanoma, and other primary cancers can also affect the stomach.
Knowing the symptoms of stomach cancer can help you and your doctor catch it early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes cancer cells to grow in the stomach.
However, there are a few factors they know which can increase your risk.
The most common is infection with H. pylori, which leads to ulcers.
You may also be at higher risk for cancer if you have inflammation in your gut called gastritis, long-term anemia called pernicious anemia, and growths in your stomach called polyps.
Other factors that seem to contribute to raising the risk include:
Early on, stomach cancer may cause:
Having indigestion or heartburn after eating doesn’t mean you have cancer.
However, if you experience these symptoms frequently, speak with your doctor.
Your doctor can determine whether you have other risk factors and test you for any problems.
As stomach tumors grow, you may develop more serious symptoms, such as:
In immunotherapy, the immune system of the patient is used to fight cancer.
By changing the way the immune system works, immunotherapy can help the body detect and attack cancer cells.
Understanding how immunotherapy works and what to expect can often help you prepare for treatment and make informed decisions about your care.
To fight illness, your body uses a complex immune system. Organs, cells, and proteins all play a role.
Many cancer cells are able to bypass the immune system’s natural defenses, allowing them to continue to grow.
Different immunotherapies work in different ways.
In some cases, immunotherapy helps the immune system stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.
Others stimulate the immune system to destroy cancer cells or prevent cancer from spreading.
Cancer immunotherapy treatments are often used in conjunction with other treatments.
Many factors will determine the type of drug, dosage, and treatment schedule.
A cancer’s type, size, location, and spread can be determined by these factors.
Also important are your age, general health, weight, and how well you can cope with side effects.
Talk to your healthcare provider about why they recommend a particular immunotherapy plan.
Your immune system produces antibodies when it detects something harmful.
Proteins called antibodies are responsible for fighting infection by attaching to antigens, which are molecules that trigger the immune system.
The purpose of monoclonal antibodies is to either boost your body’s own natural antibodies or act as antibodies themselves.
There are different methods by which monoclonal antibodies can fight cancer.
They can, for example, stop the activity of abnormal proteins in cancer cells.
It is also known as targeted therapy, or cancer treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the environment in which the tumor grows and survives.
Other types of monoclonal antibodies work by inhibiting or blocking immune checkpoints.
In normal circumstances, the immune system’s response is stopped by an immune checkpoint to prevent it from attacking healthy cells.
By activating these checkpoints, cancer cells can hide from the immune system.
Checkpoint inhibitors prevent cancer cells from blocking the immune system, thus enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.
Depending on the purpose of the drug, monoclonal antibodies can have adverse effects.
Monoclonal antibodies used in targeted therapy, for example, do not have the same side effects as those used in immunotherapy.
Inhibitors of immune checkpoints can cause side effects similar to those associated with allergies.
Additionally, non-specific immunotherapies help your immune system destroy cancer cells.
Most people receive this type of treatment after or alongside other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Non-specific immunotherapies are sometimes the main cancer treatment.
Proteins called interferons are produced by the immune system to alert your body that there is a pathogen, typically a virus, in your body.
Lab-produced interferons can be used to fight cancer.
They may also slow down cancer cell growth.
Interferon alpha is the most common type of interferon used in cancer treatment.
Interferon treatment may cause flu-like symptoms, an increased risk of infection, skin rashes, and hair loss.
An interleukin is a protein that helps cells communicate and can be used to trigger an immune response.
Lab-made interleukin-2 (IL-2) and aldesleukin (Proleukin) are used to treat skin cancer, including melanoma.
Weight gain and low blood pressure are common side effects of IL-2 treatment.
Patients may also suffer from flu-like symptoms.
Oncolytic virus therapy destroys cancer cells by using modified viruses.
Genetically modified viruses are injected into the tumor to begin the process.
The virus then replicates itself within the cancer cells.
The cancer cells burst and die as a result.
As cancer cells die, they release proteins that trigger your immune system to target any cancer cells in your body that have the same proteins as the dead cancer cells.
Healthy cells do not become infected.
Immune cells that fight infection are called T cells.
The doctor removes T cells from your blood during T-cell therapy.
The cells are then given specific proteins called receptors in a laboratory.
Through these receptors, T cells are able to recognize cancer cells.
These T cells are then put back into your body.
Those T cells hunt down cancer cells and destroy them.
It is known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.
Fever, confusion, low blood pressure, and, in rare cases, seizures can occur.
Certain blood cancers can be treated well with CAR T-cell therapy.
Researchers are still studying this and other methods of changing T cells to treat cancer.
A hormone replacement therapy is a medication that contains female hormones.
When you go through menopause, your body stops making estrogen, so you take the medication to replace it.
Hot flashes and vaginal discomfort are among the most common menopausal symptoms treated with hormone therapy.
In postmenopausal women, hormone therapy has also been shown to prevent bone loss and reduce fractures.
A bone marrow transplant involves infusing your body with healthy blood-forming stem cells to replace damaged or diseased bone marrow.
A stem cell transplant is also known as a bone marrow transplant.
When your bone marrow stops working and does not produce enough healthy blood cells, you may need a bone marrow transplant.
Oncology, the study of cancer, is the result of the discoveries of countless doctors and scientists around the world in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, epidemiology, and other related fields.
Oncologists are doctors who treat cancer.
Medical, surgical, radiation, pediatric, and gynecologic oncologists are some of the subspecialties.
Blood cancer specialists are called hematologists-oncologists.
Oncology diseases refers to diseases that are treated by oncologists.
This includes cancer, forms of sub-cancers, and diseases triggered by cancer.
During the patient’s first consultation, the oncologist will conduct a thorough examination.
An oncologist will ask questions and review the patient’s health history.
The assessment will include a review of any scans and tests the person may have had beforehand.
One treatment may be enough for some cancer patients.
Most people receive a combination of treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
You may also receive immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy.
You can also take part in clinical trials.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the most common treatments.
Targeted therapy, immunotherapy, laser therapy, hormonal therapy, and others are also available.
Among the most curable cancers are colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.
A stage 1 cancer can also be cured, especially if caught in its early stages.
The earlier you detect cancer, the better your chances of curing it before it becomes severe.