Certain cancer treatments like chemotherapy or surgery are very common. Others like radionuclide therapy and Car T cell are infrequently used.
The types of treatment that you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. You may also have immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy.
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Surgery, is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body. Surgeons are medical doctors with special training in surgery.
There are several types of cancer surgery:
- Curative surgery simply involves removal of a cancerous tumor. It works best on localized cancers that haven't yet spread to other parts of the body.
- Reconstructive surgery returns the body to normal or near-normal appearance or function following cancer treatment. The most common is breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy (breast removal).
- Palliative surgery is used to improve a patient’s quality of life by easing pain or other symptoms caused by advanced or untreatable cancer. Palliative surgery is not a cure or anti-cancer treatment.
- Minimally invasive surgery employs advanced techniques to remove tumors through tiny incisions. Minimally invasive procedures can also be performed by robotic arms controlled by surgeons.
Radiotherapy (also called radiation therapy) is a cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body.
Radiation Therapy Technologies
- TrueBeam sTx – delivers powerful, accurate and fast image-guided treatments
- TomoTherapy – confirms a patient's tumor before treatment and precisely delivers radiation therapy
- CT Simulator – provides precise and flexible scanning and dosing delivery
- High Dose Rate (HDR) Afterloader – includes a computer-based management system allowing for proper placement, replacement and dosing
- Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body. Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body. Many different chemotherapy drugs are available.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. The immune system helps your body fight infections and other diseases. It is made up of white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system.
Types of immunotherapies
- Immune checkpoint therapy helps cancer-fighting immune cells, called T cells, mount a longer-lasting response against the cancer.
- Adoptive cellular therapy / Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy increases the number and/or effectiveness of immune cells, usually T cells, which improves the power of the immune response against the cancer.
Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets proteins that control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread.
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of prostate and breast cancer that uses hormones to grow.
Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone Marrow transplants are procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in people who have had theirs destroyed by the very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy that are used to treat certain cancers.
Blood-forming stem cells are important because they grow into different types of blood cells. The main types of blood cells are:
- White blood cells, which are part of your immune system and help your body fight infection
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body
- Platelets, which help the blood clot
You need all three types of blood cells to be healthy.
Radiofrequency ablation for cancer is a minimally invasive procedure that uses electrical energy and heat to destroy cancer cells. The radiologist uses imaging tests to guide a thin needle through the skin or through an incision and into the cancer tissue. High-frequency energy passes through the needle and causes the surrounding tissue to heat up, killing the nearby cells.
Targeted Radionuclide Therapy
Targeted radionuclide therapy (also called molecular radiotherapy) involves a radioactive drug called a radiopharmaceutical that targets cancer cells. Radiopharmaceuticals typically consist of a radioactive atom (also known as a radionuclide) combined with a cell-targeting molecule that seeks and destroys cancer cells.
Type of cancers treated with radionuclide therapy:
- Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs): Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) is used to treat NETs
- Prostate Cancer: Lutetium-177 Prostate-specific membrane antigen (LuPSMA) is used for patients with advanced prostate cancer
- Thyroid Cancer: Radioactive iodine (Iodine-131) has been used to treat thyroid cancer for almost 80 years. This is done to treat some patients after thyroidectomy to destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent the thyroid cancer returning.
Palliative care is a holistic approach that helps ease the suffering of cancer patients and cancer survivors. Despite popular belief, palliative care is not just for patients with untreatable or terminal cancer. The goal is to provide the best possible quality of life at every stage of treatment, starting at diagnosis. Palliative care is also known as supportive care or symptom control.
Palliative care can include:
- Management of pain, nausea, loss of appetite and other treatment-related symptoms
- Treatment of depression and anxiety
- End of life or hospice care
For more information about our palliative care, click here