Organ specific cancer treatments
Certain advanced cancer hospitals manage cancer in an organ specific way, and accordingly oncologists are reserved for treating cancers affecting specific organs only. Accordingly, oncologists have successfully treated breast cancer, head and neck cancer, gynecological cancer, orthopedic cancer, lung cancer, neuro cancer, and liver cancer.
Understanding each organ specific cancer and the treatment available for it
It is the commonest of cancers affecting women, and it is believed to be the cancer that has caused the most mortality among women next to lung cancer. The mortality has been the highest among women whose ages were between 45 and 55. Breast cancer is curable if it is diagnosed at an early stage, and if the necessary treatments are carried out immediately following its detection. Breast cancer is growth of breast cells in an uncontrolled manner.
Breast cancer diagnosis
Abnormal presence of a lump
This diagnosis can be carried out by the patient, and the doctor too looks for the presence of abnormally looking lumps through physical breast examinations. Other than a lump, the changes in the breast that doctors look forward to finding is skin dimpling, unusual changes in the size, and or shape of the breast, pulled in nipples as against it being pointed outward when normal, and discoloration of the breast's skin.
Radiologists use mammograms to seek out abnormalities in the breasts. Mammograms are x-ray photographs of the breast that are usually taken by keeping the breasts in a compressed position.
Ultrasound imaging of breasts
Ultrasound imaging is used to examine the breasts, and this technique of using sound waves helps in distinguishing whether a lump that has been noticed in a breast is either a cyst filled with fluid, or a solid one.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI
The MRI of a breast is taken using a strong magnetic field. MRI of the breast becomes necessary in certain situations to properly diagnose breast cancer.
The biopsy of the breast becomes necessary when the oncologist has a strong suspicion of cancer being present. A core needle biopsy is performed on the suspect area of the breast to either confirm the disease, or rule it out.
The benefit of early breast cancer detection
Detection of breast cancer can be made at an early stage through screening. Screening refers to the various tests and examinations that are carried out on the breasts of a person to detect the disease at the earliest, even before the actual symptoms of the disease starts to show. Usually breast cancers that can be felt and detected are cancers that have grown larger in size and that which in usual cases has spread to regions outside the breast. The treatment in such cases is very complex. Breast cancers can be treated successfully if it is detected very early, and before the actual cancer symptoms starts to show.
Breast cancer treatment
Breast cancer is treated either through local treatment or systemic treatment.
Local treatment of breast cancer involves removal, destruction, or controlling the growth of cancerous cells in the breast. Local treatment by surgery is also known by the names mastectomy, and it is also referred to as lumpectomy. This is a breast preserving therapy. The other local treatment is the use of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy involves use of a high energy radiation beam to destroy the cancer cells. Advanced equipment like LINAC helps in focusing the radiation beam on to the cancer cells, and minimizes, or avoids causing damage to the surrounding healthy cells.
Systemic treatment becomes necessary if the breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This treatment is therefore used to control and destroy cancer cells across the body. The various therapies that are used in this treatment include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill or control cancer cells. Hormone therapy involves use of certain drugs that inhibit production of certain hormones in the body, like estrogen, which can aid in the revival of cancerous breast cells that manage to remain in the body post the surgery of the breast. Biological therapy involves use of the body's immune system in fighting and destroying cancerous cells.
Thus cancer hospitals that offer breast cancer treatments are equipped with a robust team of breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, medical oncologists and other associated staff, they have with them advanced machinery for diagnosis and treatment, and they also have the facilities of advanced ICUs for apt patient management and recovery.
Lung cancer is associated with uncontrolled growth of cells in either one, or both of the lungs. These cells do not develop into healthy lung tissue, but rather becomes abnormal cells which further continue to divide forming lumps of tissues which are identified as tumors.
The symptom that is commonly associated with lung cancer is shortness of breath and presence of wheezing. Certain other symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, appetite loss, presence of blood in the sputum while coughing, persistent cough, unanticipated loss of weight, and coughing out blood, are also associated with lung cancer. Presence of these symptoms together with reports from many other procedures will be used by physicians in diagnosing the presence or absence of lung cancer. Imaging techniques like X-Rays of chest, bronchoscopy, MRI, CT, and PET scans, are also used to diagnose lung cancer. Further, the patient is also subject to a physical examination by the physician, and an analysis of the patient's sputum is also made. All these examinations and procedures will reveal the presence of lung cancer, and also the location of the tumor, and also information about the presence or absence of the disease anywhere else in the body.
Lung cancer treatment
There are many factors which influence lung cancer treatment, and the factors on which lung cancer treatment is dependent on includes, the type of the cancer, the stage or how far the cancer has spread, the age of the patient, his or her health status, and many other personal characteristics of the patient. There is no particular treatment for lung cancer, and patients often receive treatment which is a combination of palliative care and multiple therapies. The foremost of lung cancer treatment therapies include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The patient will also be exposed to therapies that have been recently developed which include gene therapy, hormone therapy, and also immunotherapy.
The treating team comprises of radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, onco medical social workers, and so forth.
Orthopedic cancer involves musculoskeletal tumors that affect the pelvis, limbs, and spine. Orthopedic cancerous tumors that are usually seen in children and adolescents are Ewings sarcoma and Osteosarcoma. Cancerous tumors that are more common among adults are chondrosarcoma, metastasis, and multiple myeloma. These tumors are considered to be rare, and the exact cause that leads to their formation has remained a mystery till date.
Patients who are affected with these tumors have persistent pain in their back or limbs, and this pain will not subside with medications or rest. Paralysis and hand or foot weaknesses are symptoms patients with spine tumors usually present with.
Orthopedic cancer diagnosis
Clinical examination by a specialist and further investigations becomes necessary to diagnose orthopedic cancer; mere physical examinations of bone and soft tissue swellings will never reveal the presence of orthopedic cancerous tumor. The investigations that are usually carried out include X-Ray, MRI, PET, CT, and Bone scan. Biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Orthopedic cancer treatment
Tumors like Ewings sarcoma and Osteosarcoma needs a combination of treatment therapies which starts with chemotherapy, which is then followed by surgery, and eventually involves radiotherapy. Surgical treatments become necessary to treat benign tumors, and tumors like chondrosarcoma. The quality of life of patients suffering from bone metastasis can be considerably improved by subjecting them to palliative surgeries. Procedures are customized in accordance with patients when limbs or arms need to be saved from amputation. Cancer hospitals make the necessary provisions for prosthetic substitutions when amputation surgeries become necessary.
There are no known methods to prevent the occurrence of musculoskeletal tumors, and these tumors are considerably rare. Since prevention is ruled out, early detection alone can lead to proper treatment. Further, advancements in technology in the recent times has brought forward the possibility of liberating patients from definite limb or arm amputations when they are affected with bone cancers. But, amputation can be avoided only when the cancer is detected at an early stage. Numerous patients have been treated and were rehabilitated, and they are now in a position to lead a normal life; these patients have benefited from the advancements made in technology, which has made complex surgeries simpler.
Cancer hospitals use advanced technologies for soft tissue sarcoma tumor excisions including Brachytherapy, and also use of LINAC for external radiation therapy.
The orthopedic cancer treatment team of cancer hospitals comprises of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, physiotherapists, and so forth.
Patients seeking treatment for musculoskeletal tumors can also benefit from numerous services including, limb salvaging surgery while being treated for malignant tumors, benign bone tumor management, pelvic and spine tumor surgery, treatment for skin malignancy, soft tissue sarcoma treatment, and so forth.
Head and Neck Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer are cancers affecting the Upper Aero Digestive Tract, or UADT, cancers that affect the region between the collar-bone and the brain, and cancers that originate at glands like thyroid and parotid.
A good physical examination under the hands of a competent oncologist will reveal the presence of head and neck cancer. Biopsy of the affected region will give an accurate confirmation. Lumps are explored by means of a Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology, or FNAC.
Head and Neck cancer treatment
The head and neck area is associated with the personality of a person. Further, the various important functional areas, which also involve a person's senses like sight, smell, auditory, taste, speech, and swallowing, are present in this region. Hence, the treatment of cancers affecting the head and neck area needs to be a balanced one, the treatment should not compromise the aesthetics, or the functions of the sensory organs, but concurrently the treatment should be effective in containing the cancer. Thus, the most advanced of head and neck cancer treatments that are carried out is aimed at preserving the functions of the sensory organs and simultaneously controlling cancer in an effective way. Either surgery or radiation therapy is sufficient during the early stages of the onset of head and neck cancer. But, surgery combined with radiation therapy becomes necessary during the advanced stages of head and neck cancer. Chemotherapy too is used along with radiotherapy to enhance the potentiality of radiotherapy.
Further, head and neck cancer treatments also benefits from the advancements made in the domain of reconstructive surgery. These advancements has made it possible to preserve the functionality of vital sensory organs, and thereby improving the quality of life of the affected individual. Some of the surgery advancements that have aided head and neck cancer treatments include micro vascular tissue transfer, functional neck surgery, jaw preserving surgery, and so forth. Further, advanced machinery for external radiotherapy like LINACs has made it possible to deliver high intensity radiations in a precise way to tumors that are deep-seated, and also sparing vital anatomy in the vicinity of the tumor. LINACs have greatly reduced the treatment duration too.
The additional conservative services that a patient can also benefit from while being treated for head and neck cancer includes head and neck surgery, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, preservation of voice, restoration of speech, micro-vascular regeneration, speech rehabilitation, faciomaxillary surgery, prosthodontic treatments, and so forth.
All cancers and tumors affecting the liver have come to be known as liver cancer, and this includes primary liver tumors, and secondary liver tumors also. Primary liver tumors are liver tumors that emanate within the liver, and secondary liver tumors are tumors that have spread to the liver from other cancer affected sites of the body.
Liver cancer diagnosis
Imaging techniques including ultrasound, PET, and, or CT scan is required. Biopsy will or will not be required to establish liver cancer.
Liver cancer treatment
When liver cancer is detected in the early stage, it is usually treated by surgically removing the tumor, or destroying the tumor cells using targeted chemotherapy, which is also known as TACE, or by liver transplantation. There are numerous other factors which also determines the treatment that needs to be undertaken including the condition of the liver, the size of the liver, location, tumor count, the age of the affected person, and the person's overall health. Further, the risks and the benefits associated with a particular mode of treatment is also dependent on the extension the tumor has achieved, the condition of the liver, and also the health condition of the affected person. In the usual cases, a treatment plan is tailor-made in accordance with the condition of the person being treated.
Patients undergoing liver cancer treatment at advanced cancer hospitals have the benefit of receiving chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy under one roof. Further, these cancer hospitals have liver transplantation programs, and in accordance with these programs certain patients affected with liver cancer have the benefit of undergoing a liver transplant at the hospital they are being treated.
The cancer hospitals treating liver cancer have doctors in their team from various disciplines including hepatobiliary surgery, radiology, oncology, hepatology, pathology, and so forth. The entire team is well-trained and experienced in liver cancer management, and they work in unison at solving complex liver cancer problems.
Cancers affecting the female reproductive organs have been grouped under gynecological cancer. The cancers included under gynecological cancer include cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, ovarian cancer, vulvar cancer, and uterian cancer.
Gynecological cancer diagnosis
The symptoms that are usually associated with gynecological cancer includes vaginal bleeding that is not normal, swelling or bloating that is persistent in the abdominal region, gain in weight or loss that is questionable, persistent diarrhea, or constipation. Gynecological cancer is diagnosed only after thorough gynecological and clinical examinations. Imaging techniques like ultrasound, CT, and PET/CT scans are also used for accurate diagnosis. Biopsy may or may not be used in the diagnosis procedure.
Gynecological cancer treatment
The treatment is based on the extent of the spread of the cancer, and also on the type of cancer present. The treatment is usually a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and may or may not use radiotherapy. Surgery involves excision of cancerous cells from the affected area. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to stop, or control the growth of cancer cells in the affected area. The drugs are administered into the body either in the form of pills, or through Intra Venous, or IV injections. Radiotherapy involves the use of high energy radiation beams to kill the cancer cells, or preventing them from spreading further.
Gynecological cancer treatment which spares fertility have been successfully carried out. Ovarian choriocarcinoma which was in stage IV has been successfully treated by sparing fertility using a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
The services and treatments patients can expect for Gynecological cancer from cancer hospitals includes
· Diagnostic services like hysteroscopy, biopsy, laproscopy, colposcopy, and so forth,
· Ultra-radical and radical surgeries like Wertheim's hysterectomy, radical vagino-abdominal surgery, and Japanese radical surgery for cancer at stage II B, are carried out to treat uterine cervix cancer. Para-aortic and pelvic lymphadenectomy are also carried out as part of the procedure.
· Intraperitoneal chemotherapy,
· Cytoreductive surgery for ovarian tumor management is done, and this also involves hysterectomy, omentectomy, lymphadenectomy, and diaphragmatic stripping. Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is offered to patients requiring chemotherapy, and this has a good survival rate.
· Typel hysterecotmy is used in treating endometrial cancer. Pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy is also used. Progesterone therapy in high doses in undertaken to treat certain cases when fertility sparing becomes necessary.
· Radical vulvectomy, partial vaginectomy, and also partial urethrectomy with dissection of groin node is carried out in the treatment of vulval cancer.
· Surgical treatments are done to treat vaginal cancer and also fallopian tube cancers.
· Chemotherapy and hysterectomy is used in treatment of choriocarcinoma. Fertility sparing tumor excisions are also carried out in certain cases.
· Neo-vagina creation, urethral stricture treatment, vaginal dryness treatment, and so forth
· Adjuvant radiotherapy, and chemotherapy too is provided on a patient basis, as need be.
Tumors affecting the brain, spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves are treated as Neuro cancers. Abnormal growth of cells in the brain leads to brain tumor. Likewise, abnormal cell growth in the spinal cord, and peripheral nerves leads to spinal cord tumors and peripheral nerve tumors, respectively.
Blurred vision, neurological defects, vomiting, persistent headaches, seizures, and so forth, are symptoms associated with brain tumors.
Back pain, disturbances in the bowels and bladder, pain in the limbs and arms, weakness associated with limbs and arms, and so forth are some of the symptoms associated with spinal cord cancer.
Swelling, feeling of weakness, pain, and so forth are symptoms associated with peripheral nerve tumors.
Neuro cancer diagnosis and treatment
Imaging techniques including CT, MRI, PET/CT scans are used for diagnosis.
The foremost technique of tackling neuro cancers is surgery. Tumors of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves are surgically removed. A thorough histological diagnosis can be achieved of the tumor, as a result of this surgical intervention. Further, physical removal of the tumor also relieves the affected person of the cancer symptoms. The surgery also paves the way for a brisk recovery. The surgery can be followed by other treatment methods such as chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.
Any person affected with neuro cancer becomes eligible for neuro cancer treatment. But, early detection of neuro cancer helps annihilate the disease entirely. Tumors of the brain, spinal cord, or the peripheral nerves need immediate treatment, and if they are left untreated they can become life threatening at a later date. With advancements in technology, neuro cancer treatment has become significantly safe and manageable. Further, the treatment time, and thereby the required days of stay in the hospital has been considerably reduced.
Advanced cancer hospitals use numerous top-notch techniques in the treatment of neuro cancers including stem cell therapy, cerebral micro dialysis, and so forth. Advanced cancer hospitals have the required technology to conduct microneurosurgery, neuro surgery using navigation, neuro surgery that is guided by endoscopy, neuro surgery that is guided by imagery, and so forth.
Further, advanced cancer hospitals are also equipped with advanced top-notch operation theaters that are designed to handle neuro cancer cases, they also have advanced neuro ICUs and other associated infrastructure that helps a neuro cancer patient recover in a safe and monitored environment.By Dr Priya Rajendran