Cancer is one of the humankind’s biggest nemeses, almost half of all people will be diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. However, modern medicine and research mean cancer treatments are more effective than ever, and survival rates have doubled in the last forty years. Cancer isn’t necessarily the life sentence that it used to be and depending on the type, you have a better chance than ever of beating it and going on to live a healthy life. Here are some of the most common types of cancer, and how they are treated.
Treatment for breast cancer depends on how big the tumor is, and how far it’s spread. The health of the patient and whether they have been through the menopause will affect the kinds of treatments that will be offered. In some cases, surgical removal (where some or all of the breast is removed) can completely remove cancer so that no further treatment is needed. A full mastectomy or double mastectomy may also be performed as a preventative measure. While this can be a difficult situation for many women to cope with, breast reconstruction is very effective and can restore the chest to a standard the patient is happy with. If the cancer is particularly aggressive or caught at a later stage, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy or a combination of them may also be needed as well. The type or combination of treatments all depends on the personal circumstances of the patient.
One of the most effective ways to treat prostate cancer is with HiFU therapy (High-intensity focused ultrasound). This uses high frequency ultrasound energy to heat and destroy cancer cells in the prostate. Computer imaging is used to guide a probe into the correct position, and then beam of ultrasound energy travels into the prostate. The HIFU heats to almost one hundred degrees celsius within just a few seconds and targets and area that is no bigger than a grain of rice. The highly focused treatment area means that tissue outside of this range is not touched, as the ultrasound waves pass through the body without causing harm.
When cervical cancer is caught fairly early, on it will usually be treated by removing some (or all) of the uterus and pelvic lymph nodes. In some cases further radiotherapy and chemotherapy will need to be used as well. Removing the uterus will mean that a woman is no longer to become pregnant and carry a child herself, which can be particularly distressing for women who haven’t yet had a family. Luckily good screening processes mean that cervical cancer is very preventable, it has a low death rate and is able to be effectively treated 100% of the time if it’s picked up early enough.
One of the most common types of cancer, surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer. It may be combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments, depending on the particular case of the patient. As with all cancers, picking it up early enough is key and makes the treatment much easier. The treatment depends on the area of the bowel affected and how far the cancer has spread, if it’s detected early enough there’s a good chance of being being cured and stopping it coming back.