When diagnosed with any form of cancer, the worst fear is death due to this horrible disease. Knowing the alternatives in treatment and that discussing these can lead to a strong bond and a fighting chance for the sufferer. Eventhough surgery and radiation are options; other treatments that technology has helped develop for the fight against cancer. These choices are chemotherapy, and immuno/vaccine therapy.
Many people diagnosed receive chemotherapy. Drugs are given to fight off cancer and completely kill the cancer cells. During chemotherapy a patient can lose hair as the drugs given affect the fast-growing cells in which is hard to distinguish between the cancer cells or hair follicle. Drugs are also
prescribed for the slow-growing cells. Each prescription has a different job and specific time in the life of the cell it targets. Side effects can include low red and white blood cell count, low platelet count, nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. Although the side effects have become minimal due to advances, and research in the development of the drugs. (AMGEN, 2008)
Radiation therapy which is called ionizing radiation is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The three types of Radiation Therapy are external radiation, internal therapy, and systemic therapy. For the external therapy x-rays or gamma rays, particle beams, and proton beams are used for treatment. Internal radiation uses stereostactic radio surgery and radiotherapy, high-energy photon radiation, gamma knife and heavy charged particle beams. Treatment depends on the form and spots where the cancer is found, how much is needed, the health and medical history of the patient. The following are being studied to improve external therapy: 3-D conformal radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) along with hyperthermia. (National Cancer Institute, 2004)
According to Park (2001) Immuno/vaccine protects against a variety of diseases. This seems to be offering promises as a new phase in cancer treatment although Immuno/Vaccine is still in the young research era. Immuno therapies are involving from certain proteins and white blood cells have now become part of standard cancer treatment. Vaccines have updated the public health. It has been harder to develop vaccines to treat or prevent cancer in patients. Attempts to develop these vaccines have yet to yield proven results, although there has been growing interest created by advances in the areas of immunology and cancer biology. These vaccines have been shown to be capable of improving the immune response against particular antigens. As stated by Park (2001) Idiotype vaccines have been on trial and have been proven to have benefits in some lymphoma patients. In malignant melanoma and was found to stimulate the immune response against the cancer.
Having lived with a family member whom was diagnosed and suffered from cancer but lost the battle has made our family research and prays for a cure. With love, understanding and treatments her life was extended. In researching and allowing her to choose her course of treatment with the aide of her doctors. All was aided with the technological advances in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immuno/vaccine therapy. Baby steps in technology gains the larger steps in the battle.
AMGEN. (2008). Easing the Chemotherapy Journey. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from Chemotherapy.com: http://www.chemotherapy.com/treating_with_chemo/treating_with_chemo.jsp
National Cancer Institute. (2004, August 25). Therapy/Radiation. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet
Park, John M., (2001). Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment, Retrieved July 28, 2008, from Cancer Supportive Care Programs: http://www.cancersupportivecare.com/immunotherapy.html