Cure Vs Cured Vs Remission
For centuries, doctors have used the word âcureâ to describe a medical condition thatâs completely gone and will never come back. For example, if you have appendicitis and doctors remove your appendix, youâve been cured.
In the language of cancer, âcureâ works differently.
Doctors can give you their best perspective, based on statistics from large groups of people, on whether or not your cancer will come back. But no doctor can guarantee that youâll be cured.
There are two reasons for this:
Instead of talking about âcures,â most medical professionals use the word âtreatment.â If you have treatment, and your cancer doesnât come back the rest of your life, youâre considered cured.
Some Cancer Patients Can Skip Radiation Or Chemo 2 Studies Show
After surgery, some cancer patients can safely skip radiation or chemotherapy, according to two studies exploring shorter, gentler cancer care.
Researchers are looking for ways to precisely predict which cancer patients can avoid unneeded treatment to cut down on harmful side effects and unnecessary costs.
One new study used a blood test to determine which colon cancer patients could skip chemotherapy after surgery. Another suggests some low-risk breast cancer patients can omit radiation after lumpectomy.
The research was discussed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which wrapped up Tuesday in Chicago. The colon cancer study, funded by the Australian and U.S. governments and nonprofit groups, was published Saturday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
The findings could allow doctors to “focus on the patients we think would truly benefit from chemotherapy and avoid the side effects for patients for whom it’s likely unnecessary,” said Dr. Stacey Cohen of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, who reviewed the colon cancer findings and was not involved in the research.
Treatment : Active Surveillance
Active surveillance may be all thats needed for certain types of cancers. Your doctor may recommend this approach if the cancer is at an early stage and is growing slowly or not at all.
For example, doctors often recommend active surveillance for prostate cancer, which tends to grow very slowly. Doctors monitor patients prostate-specific antigen with blood tests and monitor symptoms. If or when symptoms worsen or tests show that the cancer is growing more rapidly, they then begin discussing additional treatments.
Often, patients who are receiving active surveillance have no symptoms and go on living their lives as usual, Batus says.
Surveillance may also be an option for patients who want a break from treatment side effects or for those who have exhausted all other treatment options.
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How Much Radiation Therapy Costs
Radiation therapy can be expensive. It uses complex machines and involves the services of many health care providers. The exact cost of your radiation therapy depends on the cost of health care where you live, what type of radiation therapy you get, and how many treatments you need.
Talk with your health insurance company about what services it will pay for. Most insurance plans pay for radiation therapy. To learn more, talk with the business office at the clinic or hospital where you go for treatment. If you need financial assistance, there are organizations that may be able to help. To find such organizations, go to the National Cancer Institute database, Organizations that Offer Support Services and search for “financial assistance.” Or call toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER to ask for information on organizations that may help.
Other Promising Treatments For This Technology
Dr. Holland was also able to use the sound wave treatment to kill other cells, for example, the harmful antibiotic-resistant bacteria staphylococcus aureus . According to Gateway for Cancer Research, The electronic signals not only rendered MRSA vulnerable to antibiotics but also slowed its growth.
The treatment removes the antibiotic resistance of MRSA, which they can then kill with antibiotics. The hope for the future of Dr. Hollands discovery is to conduct human studies to be to confirm the effectiveness of the treatment.
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What Are The Goals Of Chemotherapy
The goals of chemotherapy depend on your type of cancer and how far it has spread. Chemotherapy can be given alone or as a part of a treatment plan that includes different treatments. Some of the ways chemotherapy is used include:
As the primary treatment. Sometimes, the goal of chemotherapy treatment is to get rid of all the cancer and keep it from coming back. This might be called “curative chemotherapy.”
Before other treatments. Chemotherapy can be given before surgery or radiation therapy to shrink tumors. This can be called “neoadjuvant chemotherapy.”
After other treatments. Chemotherapy can be given after surgery or radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. This is called “adjuvant chemotherapy.”
To slow the progression of cancer and relieve symptoms. Even when the cancer is not curable, chemotherapy can partially shrink tumors and prevent tumor growth and spread for various lengths of time. In such settings, chemotherapy can extend survival, relieve cancer-related symptoms, and improve quality of life.Chemotherapy used for these purposes is sometimes called “palliative chemotherapy.”
Chemotherapy can be used to treat many types of cancers. It can also be used to treat recurrent cancer and metastatic cancer. Recurrent cancer is cancer that comes back after treatment. Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Does Radiation Therapy Affect Pregnancy Or Fertility
Females: Its important not to become pregnant while getting radiation it can harm the growing baby. If theres a chance you might become pregnant, be sure to talk to your doctor about birth control options.
If you are or might be pregnant, let your doctor know right away.
If the area getting radiation in your body includes the ovaries, it is possible that the dose of radiation can cause the ovaries to no longer work , and that you would be unable to have children. it is important to know the risk of this possibility in advance of receiving radiation therapy. If you are thinking about radiation therapy that will affect the ovaries, talk to your doctor about how this might affect having children in the future.
Males: Not much is known about radiations effect on the children conceived by men while getting radiation therapy. Because of this, doctors often advise men to not get a woman pregnant during and for some weeks after treatment. Talk to your doctor to find out more about this.
Learn more in How Cancer and Cancer Treatment Can Affect Fertility.
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Survival Rates Are Tripling For Lung Patients
When Dr. Roy Herbst of Yale started in oncology about 25 years ago, nearly every lung cancer patient with advanced disease got chemotherapy.
With chemotherapy, he said, patients would be sure to have one thing: side effects. Yet despite treatment, most tumors continued to grow and spread. Less than half his patients would be alive a year later. The five-year survival rate was just 5 to 10 percent.
Those dismal statistics barely budged until 2010, when targeted therapies began to emerge. There are now nine such drugs for lung cancer patients, three of which were approved since May of this year. About a quarter of lung cancer patients can be treated with these drugs alone, and more than half who began treatment with a targeted drug five years ago are still alive. The five-year survival rate for patients with advanced lung cancer is now approaching 30 percent.
But the drugs eventually stop working for most, said Dr. Bruce Johnson, a lung cancer specialist at Dana-Farber. At that point many start on chemotherapy, the only option left.
Another type of lung cancer treatment was developed about five years ago immunotherapy, which uses drugs to help the immune system attack cancer. Two-thirds of patients from an unpublished study at Dana-Farber were not eligible for targeted therapies but half of them were eligible for immunotherapy alone, and others get it along with chemotherapy.
Rejecting Cancer Treatment: What Are The Consequences
There have been several studies of people who have refused scientific treatments for cancer. The results have not been good.
These do not cure cancer
One of the points Ive tried to emphasize through my contributions to Science-Based Medicine is that every treatment decision requires an evaluation of risks and benefits. No treatment is without some sort of risk. And a decision to decline treatment has its own risks. One of the challenges that I confront regularly as a pharmacist is helping patients understand a medications expected long-term benefits against the risks and side effects of treatment. This dialogue is most challenging with symptomless conditions like high blood pressure, where patients face the prospect of immediate side effects against the potential for long-term benefit. Ones willingness to accept side effects is influenced, in part, by and understanding of, and belief in, the overall goals of therapy. Side effects from blood-pressure medications can be unpleasant. But weighed against the reduced risk of catastrophic events like strokes, drug therapy may be more acceptable. Willingness to accept these tradeoffs varies dramatically by disease, and are strongly influenced by patient-specific factors. In general, the more serious the illness, the greater the willingness to accept the risks of treatment.
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Killing Cancer Through The Immune System
Image credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
What if the body could heal itself of even the most aggressive and deadly tumors?
In the span of just a few years, the idea has gone from New Age notion to medical reality. Researchers are investigating the potential of immunotherapy to be a powerful, effective and long-lasting solution to kill cancer.
T-cells , which are used by the immune system to fight disease, show an increase near prostate cancer cells following an immunotherapy treatment. Image credit: Fong lab/UCSF
One of the confounding characteristics of cancer has long been that the bodys usually active patrol against viruses tends to leave deadly cancer cells alone to fester, mutate and spread.
The immune system has this blind spot by design an immune system that has an ability to attack itself leads to autoimmune diseases, so as protection, it screens out its own tissue.
For decades, scientists assumed that cancer was beyond the reach of the bodys natural defenses. But after decades of skepticism that the immune system could be trained to root out and eliminate these malignant cells, a new generation of drugs is proving otherwise.
The treatment consists of infusing antibodies that enhance the immune system to recognize cancer cells and attack it. Whats more, since the immune system has a built-in memory, it continues to go after cancer cells, so the response can be longer lasting and more complete.
Does Radiation Therapy Cause Cancer
It has long been known that radiation therapy can slightly raise the risk of getting another cancer. Its one of the possible side effects of treatment that doctors have to think about when they weigh the benefits and risks of each treatment. For the most part, the risk of a second cancer from these treatments is small and is outweighed by the benefit of treating the cancer, but the risk is not zero. This is one of the many reasons each case is different and each person must be part of deciding which kind of treatment is right for them. The risk is different depending on where the radiation treatment will be in the body.
If your cancer care team recommends radiation treatment, its because they believe that the benefits youll get from it will outweigh the possible side effects. Still, this is your decision to make. Knowing as much as you can about the possible benefits and risks can help you be sure that radiation therapy is best for you.
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This Leading Technology Kills Cancer Cells Without Chemo Or Radiation
This technology is leading the fight against cancer with a treatment that is non-invasive and non-toxic to the body. This new technology is unlike chemotherapy and radiation treatments that cause weakness and uncomfortable side effects for patients. The leading technology will allow patients to keep their health and hair as they recover.
In his TED talk about the cancer-fighting developments he discovered, Dr. Holland compares the shattering of cancer cells to the shattering of a crystal glass by hitting one sustained note.
When you strike a tuning fork, it vibrates with sound at 440 hertz. By holding another tuning fork near the one that is struck, you can induce a sympathetic vibration. Shattering crystal is done the same way, by matching the resonant vibration of the crystal until the vibration increases and the glass breaks.
Dr. Holland has discovered how to shatter cancer cells with sound waves by finding their exact harmonic frequency. Strangely enough, cancer cells and other microorganisms have a structure similar to that of liquid crystal. We are most familiar with liquid crystals in the form of LCD screens on our laptop computers and TV screens.
When you watch TV on an LCD screen, electronic signals change the color and shape of the crystals. By sending electronic signals to cancer cells, Dr. Holland is able to get them to change their shape as well.
Questions To Ask About Radiation Therapy
Before treatment, youll be asked to sign a consent form saying that your doctor has explained how radiation therapy may help, the possible risks, the type of radiation to be used, and your other treatment options. Before signing the consent form, be sure that you have had a chance to get all your questions answered. Here are some of the things you may want to ask about:
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Before Trying ‘natural Cancer Therapies’
If you are interested in trying any nontraditional therapies, its essential to talk to your doctor first. Unfortunately, because patients often struggle to have these conversations with their oncologists openly, many do, in fact, end up at the feet of unscrupulous practitioners promising a fantasy, says Gary Soffer, MD. He is part of the Integrative Medicine Program. We provide patients a safe forum, with trained practitioners, to openly have these conversations and ask these questions. Services are available for patients being treated at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital.
In his experience, most people are not looking for alternative cancer therapies, he says, but are seeking ways to change the experience of their disease and their quality of life. Other times they are looking for ways to increase their chances of survival while on their conventional medications or to mitigate some of the side effects. Or often it is simply a patient wanting some autonomy when they feel most powerless. We are positioned to provide all of this while helping to prevent replacing effective therapies, Dr. Soffer says.
The fact is, when a natural substance is effective, it becomes part of medical care, says Dr. Johnson, offering several examples. Aspirin is derived from willow bark, and chemotherapies for breast cancer patients, including anthracyclines and taxanes, are created from soil bacteria and the pacific yew tree, he says.
Manipulating Ph Levels Through Diet
The hype: Based on the scientific observation that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment meaning low pH levels some people contend that highly acidic foods such as meat, cheese, and grain products raise the risk of cancer by reducing pH levels in the blood. They claim that eating alkaline foods such as fruit, green vegetables, and other plant-based products discourages the growth of cancer cells by raising blood pH levels and tout the benefits of the alkaline diet .
The evidence: Cancer cells create an acidic microenvironment due to a high metabolic rate. Cancer cells cant live in a highly alkaline environment, but neither can healthy cells. Your body works to keep pH levels constant, and changing your diet is not going to substantially change the pH levels of your blood, which are tightly regulated by the kidneys and lungs regardless of foods consumed.
The pH of bodily fluids, such as saliva and urine, does change temporarily depending on the foods you eat, but that doesnt affect blood pH levels . In fact, any significant deviation in blood pH levels can cause serious, even life-threatening conditions known as acidosis or alkalosis
The verdict:There is no evidence that changing your diet to alter pH levels affects cancer growth, Dr. Yeung says. The actual science has been misinterpreted. Changing the pH in your saliva doesnt mean your blood pH changes. Some patients try using chemicals to modify their blood pH, but that can be extremely dangerous.
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Alternatives To Chemoand Radiation
Gerson Therapy and juicing
Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy
High-dose vitamin C
Frankincense Essential Oil Therapy
Oxygen Therapy and Hyperbaric Chambers
If A Loved One Declines Treatment
If a loved one decides to forego lung cancer treatment, it can be a difficult, heart-wrenching thing to hear. You may not be able to fully comprehend it at first. In such instances, let your loved one know that you hear them and love them, but that you need a day or two to process the news.
If you do decide you need more information, ask compassionately. Avoid judgmental questions starting with “why,” and give your loved one time to express themselves fully without interruption or displays of panic or disapproval.
In the end, there will come a time when you need to respect your loved one’s decision, however hard that may be. Acceptance will ultimately make you a better caregiver and prepare you emotionally for when your loved one is no longer with you.
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