If you or a loved one has received a cancer diagnosis, you’re not alone.
With approximately 1.9 million new cancer cases diagnosed annually, according to the American Cancer Society, that’s roughly 5,250 new cases every day in the United States.
And after a diagnosis comes treatment decisions.
Here, experts will simplify the most common cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, surgery, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, bone marrow/stem cell transplant and clinical trials. This will help you explore your options and empower you with knowledge during this challenging time.
Cancer is no longer the unbeatable foe it once was. As of January 2022, there are approximately 18.1 million cancer survivors in the United States, comprising about 5.4 percent of the population. This number is projected to surge by 24.4 percent, to 22.5 million by 2032, the National Cancer Institute says.
This progress is attributed to advancements in cancer treatments and a growing emphasis on healthier lifestyles. The following sections will examine the various treatment options contributing to this positive shift in cancer outcomes.
Chemotherapy leverages potent chemicals to target and destroy fast-growing cells within your body, as described by the Mayo Clinic. As cancer cells tend to grow and divide rapidly, they are particularly susceptible to these medications.
Despite its effectiveness, chemotherapy can cause significant side effects, which may vary depending on the drugs used and individual responses. Common side effects include:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Easy bruising
Radiation therapy for cancer uses various techniques, the most common being external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and internal radiation therapy, per the Cleveland Clinic. Your radiation oncologist will carefully assess your condition and cancer type to determine the most suitable approach.
Radiation therapy operates on a simple, yet powerful, principle: it employs radiation, usually high-powered X-rays, to annihilate cancer cells. This is achieved by disrupting the DNA within cancer cells, rendering them unable to grow or multiply. Consequently, the cancer cells perish, and tumors begin to shrink.
While radiation therapy holds promise in cancer treatment, it can cause side effects, which may include: