(Biotherapy, Cryotherapy, Hyperthermia)
We are living in the era of precision medicine. The future of cancer treatment lies in amalgamation of two or several targeted therapies for patients—as has been practiced for years for several other deadly diseases, such as HIV. Researchers are becoming increasingly inclined towards the benefits of targeting different genetic pathways with different types of drugs. Combination treatments are more effective according to a number of scientists. While managing genetic diversity is no mean feat, it has opened up a world of new possibilities with regards to the line of attack. As promising as this sounds, one should not forget that there is always the possibility of resistance to new drug treatments in cancer patients.
Biological therapies are procedures that deal with the usage of living organisms or their equivalents derived from labs for the purpose of treating cancer. Many biological therapies involve the use of bacteria to help the immune system destroy cancer cells in the body. Biological therapies that are known as immunotherapy are in general not directly targeted to cancer cells. Biological therapies do not just help with the overall treatment of cancer, but also with the treatment of the side effects of primary treatments. A cancer patient can either avail biological therapy through FDA approved methods or go on a clinical trial. Then there are other forms of biological therapies that attack cancer cells directly, like RNA/DNA or antibodies. It is a type of targeted cancer therapy as the aim is to target a particular group of molecules that are stimulating the progress of tumour.
Apart from chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and the use of cancer drugs, there are certain practices that fall outside mainstream medicine but are just as popular these days in the treatment of cancer. Such practices are collectively termed as complementary and alternative methods or therapies. They are most commonly used alongside traditional cancer treatments to increase the chance of recovery. Such alternative therapies also help patients cope in a better way with the stress of treatment. For instance, many people follow stress reduction therapy and acupuncture to reduce the side effect of nausea that chemotherapy induces. Acupuncture can also be used in the aftermath of a surgery to provide relief from pain. People are also trying out herbal remedies, aromatherapy, hypnosis and detox diets to gain wellness. There are a number of cancer hospitals in India which offer a host of free treatments for this disease.
There are other treatments, such as cryotherapy and hyperthermia, which are used to treat tumours and cancerous tissues. Cryotherapy involves use of cold liquid nitrogen to destroy cancerous growths, especially external tumours. On the other hand, hyperthermia or thermal therapy involves use of heat to damage cancer tissues and shrink tumours. Laser light is also used for the purpose shrinking tumours, especially in cases where the cancer is superficial or at a very early stage. Then there is photodynamic therapy that uses a photosensitizer drug along with a certain wavelength of light to form a type of oxygen that destroys cells. Cancer treatments have evolved throughout the years and modern methods are now making survival rates higher.
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