Cancer is a potentially life-threatening disease in which abnormal cells develop and multiply in some area of the body. Any organ in the body is susceptible to the development of these abnormal cells. Some forms of cancer affect the blood or bone marrow of a person instead of directly attacking an organ. Cancer treatment options vary according to cancer type, the stage of the cancer, and the overall health of the patient. Some of the cancer treatment options available include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and bone marrow transplant.
Surgery is one of the most widely used cancer treatment options available. Various surgical options are used, depending upon the individual situation. Biopsy, a process of removing a small amount of tissue from the body, is often used to make a diagnosis of cancer or to remove small cancerous lesions. Laser surgery may be used to burn and destroy cancerous tissue, especially in cases of cervical cancer or skin cancer. A more invasive type of surgery may be necessary if the cancerous lesions are large or if an entire organ needs to be removed.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which may be used individually or together, are common cancer treatment options, especially in cases where the cancer has spread throughout the body. Chemotherapy is a process of introducing chemicals into the body that are designed to destroy the cancer cells. This is normally done through a tube that is inserted into a vein, commonly referred to as an IV, although these drugs are sometimes given in pill form as well. Radiation therapy is a method of treatment involving high-energy radiation to destroy the cancer cells. This is either done by using a machine such as an x-ray machine or by injecting radioactive chemicals directly into the blood.
Bone marrow transplants are also among the available cancer treatment options. This type of treatment is most common in patients with blood cancers such as leukemia. Bone marrow is a soft tissue found within the bones and forms the materials that make blood cells. Before being able to receive a bone marrow transplant, the patient's own bone marrow will usually be destroyed through chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Healthy bone marrow from a suitable donor will then be transplanted into the patient's body.
An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating various forms of cancer. Once the diagnosis has been made, the doctor will run tests to determine the severity of the disease and the overall health of the patient. All suitable cancer treatment options will then be presented to the patient, and a treatment plan will be developed.