That branch of medicine which deals with the management of cancer is known as oncology. The specialists who treat patients are known as oncologists. It is important to keep in mind the three main components which have become necessary in increasing the chance of survival in patients. The three components are mentioned below:
• Prevention – prevention identifies the risk factors like tobacco and alcohol and works in reducing their intake.
• Diagnosis – diagnosis is done by screening of cancers with the help of tests and staging.
• Treatment – treatment is given by seeing the extent of the cancer and the body parts which are hit.
There are no exact causes of this disease which makes it even more potent but there are several risk factors. Keeping away from these factors can lessen the chance of your body being hit by this disease. Some of the common risk factors are –
• Tobacco is considered as the main cause of deaths caused by cancer. More than 20 percent of deaths related to this condition are caused due to tobacco.
• Lifestyle choices such as cigarette smoking and alcohol increase the risk.
• Cancer is prominent in old people. This is because most of the cancers take years to develop. They may be present in the body since a long time but only get identified at a later stage when they have fully developed.
• There are several cancer causing substances in the environment. They are present in air as well as water. It is difficult for us to avoid them. Some of the examples include Arsenic, asbestos, benzene, cadmium etc.
• Obesity – it is directly related to cancer of breast, colon, rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas etc.
There are different ways to treat this disease. It includes radiation therapy, surgery as well as medical oncology. Medical oncology means when the treatment is done with the help of chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
It uses drugs to kill affected cells. A single or combination of different drugs is given to keep the cancer cells from growing and dividing and stop them from making new cells. These drugs are very powerful and have the potential to kill nearby normal cells. It can be used in different ways. If it is used to shrink tumors before the surgery, then it is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. It can also be used as the only treatment in diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. The drugs that are administered are given according to the type of cancer which is treated and the location where it has spread.
• Targeted Therapy
It also works by giving drugs but is different from chemotherapy as specific genes and proteins are targeted to stop cancer from growing and spreading. These methods are often used with chemotherapy and other options. The given drugs have the capability of blocking the signals that give tumor cells information to grow and divide. It is done with the help of two different types. In Monoclonal antibodies, drugs block the exact target that is affected in and around the cancer. With small molecule drugs, the process that helps cancer cells multiply and spread is blocked. This therapy is commonly used in breast, colorectal and lung cancer.
In Immunotherapy, body’s natural immune system is boosted to fight cancer. The substances used in fighting are made by the body or prepared specially in a laboratory. They work by stopping the growth of affected cells and helping the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells. In Oncolytic Virus therapy, genetically modified viruses are used to kill cancer cells. Virus is injected into the tumor. It copies itself which causes the cells to burst and die. Then there is T-cell therapy. In this method, T cells are removed from the blood and altered in a laboratory. They reenter the body and destroy cancer cells.