Today, medicine has advanced to treat cancer patients in several different ways. As UT Austin professor Kevin Dalby explains, patients could choose from a variety of treatments depending on what type of cancer they have and how advanced the cancer is.
Not every cancer patient will have options. Some may be limited to only one type of treatment. But, doctors can help patients navigate the uncertainty and tough times ahead. Here are some of the modern-day cancer treatments patients could potentially choose from.
Chemo is perhaps the most commonly known treatment for cancer. Patients take certain medications that work to kill the cells that have cancer. How long a patient must undergo chemotherapy will depend on the type of cancer, how advanced it is, and how well the patient’s body responds to the drugs.
Chemo does have some side effects that can be unpleasant. Still, it’s been proven as an effective cancer treatment for many patients.
Besides chemotherapy, radiation therapy is the next most well-known cancer treatment. This treatment aims to target cancer cells and kill them using high levels of radiation. It can also be used to shrink tumors.
This radiation can either be by external beam radiation sent through a machine such as an X-ray, or brachytherapy, which involves placing something within your body to fight cancer.
This type of therapy targets all changes that cancer cells undergo that ultimately assist them in dividing, growing, and then spreading.
The goal is to identify the abnormalities in the cancer cells that ultimately keep them surviving. Then, a drug is used to target those abnormalities to stop them in their tracks.
Another option is immunotherapy, which seeks to support the immune system’s fight against cancer. It’s also sometimes referred to as biological therapy because of how it works.
If cancer goes unchecked within your body, it can continue to survive and grow. The immune system’s job is to recognize cancer as an intruder and then stop it.
When this doesn’t happen naturally, immunotherapy can aid the immune system in recognizing cancer cells and then properly attacking them.
Dr. Kevin Dalby explains that some types of cancer result from the hormones in your body. In those types — such as prostate cancer and breast cancer — hormone therapy can be used.
This cancer treatment seeks to stop or slow the growth of these hormone-based cancers. It does this by either completely removing the affected hormones from your body or working to block their effects on your body so cancer stops growing.
In some cases, surgery can be an option to completely remove cancer from the body. This can’t be done for all types of cancer or cancer at all stages, but it can be very effective in cases where it can be used.
About Dr. Kevin Dalby
Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, currently working on cancer drug discovery.
At the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas, he is examining the mechanisms of nature and cancer to develop new treatments and teaching and motivating students to conduct research. Dalby is optimistic about the future of cancer treatments.