What Is Cancer?
Today, cancer is not a death sentence. Israel, Austria, Germany, and other countries with highly developed medicine take pride in curing 80% of early-stage cancer cases. The main thing is to choose a good clinic for cancer diagnosis and treatment, employing qualified and experienced doctors who keep an eye on modern trends and use the most effective methods.
Cancer is quite difficult to predict, but there are still some risk factors, which increase the possibility of malignant neoplasms.
Primary risk factors:
- In general, as the body ages, the possibility of tumors grows.
- Family history. A family history of cancer increases the risk of such a diagnosis in the future. Cases of familial breast and colon cancer are especially frequent.
- An unhealthy diet with too many carbohydrates leads to weight gain and a higher risk of not only cancer but also cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases and many other problems.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol. There is no doubt that nicotine and carcinogens in cigarettes raise the risk of lung cancer by several times. Passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. Tobacco smoke is harmful not only to the lungs but also to the lips, oral cavity, and other parts of the respiratory system.
- Pre-existing diseases. For example, human papillomavirus infection makes women more vulnerable to cervical cancer, and gastric ulcer is considered by experts to be a precancerous condition.
Doctors show particular attention and display vigilance in regard to people who are at risk for cancer. They should undergo a set of examinations for early diagnosis of cancer more often than others.
The Most Common Cancer Types
The incidence of a certain cancer type depends on age, gender, and many other features. Children mostly develop blood and brain cancer. They rarely suffer from lung and gastrointestinal tumors and tumors of some other organs. Lung and prostate cancer are common in men, and cervical and breast cancer—in women.
Cancer Treatment Methods
The cancer treatment strategy largely depends on its stage. The personal prognosis and the possibility of cure and remission depend on the stage as well. The features of the tumor structure, tumor characteristics, the presence of metastases, and comorbidities are also paid attention to when choosing a treatment method.
Surgery is the most effective method of treating early-stage cancer. Surgeons resect the tumor en bloc, preventing the spread of cancer cells through the blood and lymphatic vessels: this operation is considered radical. There is another option: palliative surgery. In this case, the treatment is aimed at improving the patient’s life quality and eliminating complications of cancer.
Oncologists prescribe chemotherapy both as an independent treatment and in combination with other methods (for example, before or after surgery). There are tablets, injectable solutions, solutions for internal use, pills, and other drug formulations for chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has distressing side effects (nausea, hair loss, weight gain, and others), but the end result increases a person’s chance of cure. This method helps reduce the tumor size and prevent relapses.
Radiotherapy (radiation therapy) can be used before surgery to reduce the tumor size and after it—to kill the remaining malignant cells. Radiation therapy helps relieve pain in patients with late-stage cancer. In combination with other treatment methods, radiotherapy helps achieve a high success rate.
There are two radiotherapy types:
- external beam radiotherapy (a radiation source outside the body);
- internal radiotherapy (a source (an implant, liquid, etc.) is delivered in the nidus for more targeted influence.
The CyberKnife System and Linear Particle Accelerators
The CyberKnife System is a robotic innovative device for cancer treatment. This is an alternative to surgery, characterized by its non-invasiveness, painlessness, and good tolerability. With the CyberKnife, a high dose of radiation is applied once or several times within the exact boundaries of the nidus, thus killing malignant cells. This procedure enables effective therapy of tumors that are hard to reach for surgeons.
Brachytherapy is a modern type of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. In brachytherapy, the radiation source is delivered directly to the parenchyma. Thus, the prostate gets the highest possible dose of radiation, which does not harm healthy tissues around the organ. Surgery for prostate cancer, which was widely used before, entails major blood loss and the risk of erectile dysfunction and enuresis in the future. Therefore, brachytherapy, featuring fewer side effects and good tolerability, is a more preferable treatment method.
Developed countries are making wide use of immunotherapy in cancer treatment. The main task of immunotherapy is to influence the body so that it starts fighting cancer cells on its own and killing them. There are passive and active strategies: the first one adjusts the immune defense, and the second method implies active destruction of the tumor.
Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplants
Bone marrow transplantation is a complex procedure to replace affected bone marrow with healthy stem cells. It is used for those types of cancer that somehow affect hematopoiesis — the formation of blood cells. Before delivering healthy cells, the damaged organ (bone marrow) is completely destroyed through chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Only after that, a healthy organ is implanted into the patient’s body; stem cells get into large bones and begin to synthesize blood cells.
90% of stages 1 and 2 cancer cases are cured abroad, but as the tumor grows and metastases appear, the chances of a positive outcome decrease. In this situation, medical care will be aimed at managing pain and other symptoms, as well as improving well-being and quality of life.
To consolidate the results achieved, patients need comprehensive rehabilitation to recover after a long and difficult therapy. Foreign clinics have everything necessary for maintaining health and bringing patients back to a full life.