Cancer also is known as malignancy, is an abnormal growth of cells in the body. It is one of the most dreaded diseases of all times and in spite of such drastic advancements in medical technology and curing techniques, it remains as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In fact, today cancer has become more intense and as of date, there are more than 100 types of cancer including breast cancer, blood cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. While symptoms for each cancer differ and depend on the type of cancer, treatment for cancer also depends on the kind of cancer and the stage of cancer. That said, recent advancements have changed the way cancer is treated now. Some of the innovative therapies to prevent cancer include:
This phenomenon of treating cancer is not dependent on the formula one-size-fits-all. Instead, it understands that each cancer is different and the way it grows and responds to treatment varies person-to-person. Hence, precision or personalized medicine aims at individualizing targeted treatment at the right stage of cancer treatment in the patient. Precision medicine involves setting the course of treatment depending on the patient’s medical history, test results, genes, lifestyle, diet, and the surrounding environment. Precision medicine is dependent on the gene changes or mutations that are unique to each cancer and hence, set the foundation for the type of course needed.
Cancer cells are very adaptive to their surrounding environment and hence, make it very difficult to detect cancer. Immunotherapy is a technique that trains and strengthens the body’s immune system to find and attack the cancer cells similar to the way it fights with bacteria. A few types of immunotherapy include:
Monoclonal antibodies: Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system to attack cancer and other foreign cells by sticking to the antigens of the targeted cells and sending out signals to other immune cells to attack all at once. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of the antibodies, specially created to target and fight the cancer cells.
Checkpoint inhibitors: Sometimes cancer cells hide behind the checkpoints so that the immune system perceives the cancer cells as friendly and does not attack them. A type of immunotherapy involves introducing inhibitors to remove the checkpoints and make it easier for the immune system of the body to detect the cancer cells.
Vaccines: Cancer vaccines are another development in the course of treatment for cancer. These vaccines are classified into two types – preventive (prophylactic) and treatment (therapeutic). The former vaccines aim to prevent cancer while the latter is focused on curing the existing cancer cells.
Cytokines: Immunotherapy involving cytokines is known to increase the growth and activity of immune cells so that can fight cancer cells more effectively.
CAR T-cell therapy: The human body has T-cells also called the fighter cells that protect the body from viruses and other such attacks. In CAR T-cell therapy, the fighter cells are modified to fight cancer cells more strongly. The T cells are removed from the body and altered by their genes to help destroy cancer cells and are then placed back in the system.
Laser therapy uses the high-intensity light to cure cancer. The treatment technique uses a special light beam through a thin tube known as an endoscope, which is inserted into the body to fight cancer or precancerous cells. This is known to shrink or destroy tumors or precancerous growth. Laser therapies do not work in all cases but can be effective in slow-growing cancer cells or low stage cancer. The therapy involves less bleeding and damages to normal tissue.
This is a form of therapy that uses radioactive liquids called radioisotopes to destroy cancer cells in the body. This liquid can be inserted into the veins via an injection or can be taken in the form of a capsule or drink. Cancer cells tend to consume more radioactive elements than normal cells, which helps to eventually destroy them by killing their DNA. DNA damaged cancer cells do not multiply or die; the dead cells are then naturally removed by the body. Radiation therapy is a long process and involves days or weeks of treatment to kill the DNA of cancer cells enough for them to die. The effect of the therapy stays for more even after radiation therapy ends, this helps destroy all smaller cancer cells effectively over time.
Hyperthermia involves exposing the cancerous cells to extreme heat (fire or even natural sunlight), to stimulate the blood flow, increase oxygen, and make cancer cells more prone to radiation. Hyperthermia treatment is non-invasive and effective during the initial stages of cancer. This is a base treatment for radioactive therapy to cure cancer while minimizing damage to healthy tissues.
In spite of such innovative methods of cancer treatment, the disease is still widespread, and the mortality rate has gone up due to lack of proper diagnosis and improper treatment. Awareness regarding cancer, its symptoms, and treatment is very critical to fighting cancer. Moreover, information about innovative cancer treatments should be increased to destroy cancer completely.