Finding the right treatment for you
Oncology is the branch of medicine that diagnoses and treats the different types of cancer. Cancer can strike anyone, from any gender or age group. Depending on the type of cancer, its location and the stage at which it is diagnosed, various treatments may be initiated in an effort to eradicate or kill cancer cells.
Amongst the most common treatments are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery.
Depending on the type of cancer, the clinician will determine which options are available and which would yield the best results. In some cases, a patient may be offered a choice of procedures or treatments, but it is not necessarily the case and it depends on the stage of the cancer and which organs are affected. An early diagnosis improves the treatment prognosis but overall health and age may also be a factor.
Chemotherapy involves the use of medications that target and kill cancer cells. Common side effects to the treatment include hair loss, nausea and weight loss. However, new developments in medications have contributed to reducing many of these side effects and improve the overall patient experience. This type of treatment is recommended and used when cancer has metastasized, meaning it’s not confined to one location and has spread to other areas within the body. In many cases, it is used in conjunction with and after the patient has undergone surgery and radiation therapy.
One of the technologies also used to provide cancer treatment is a specific type of x-ray, called radiotherapy. Cancer cells grow and divide faster than most normal cells, and radiation therapy can kill cancer cells or slow their growth by damaging their DNA. Once those cells’ DNA is damaged beyond repair, they stop dividing or die. This type of cancer treatment has fewer side effects than chemotherapy since it only targets one area of the body and each session is relatively quick, lasting about 15 minutes. The treatment is also painless and doesn’t hurt when it enters the body.
Hormone therapy, also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy, is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. It’s often the first step in treating prostate or breast cancer that are discovered in early stages of development, as oestrogen and testosterone may increase cancer tumour growth. There are two categories of hormone therapy, those that block the body’s ability to produce hormones and those that interfere with how hormones behave in the body. Some common side effects of both treatments are hot flushes, nausea and fatigue.
Surgery consists of removing cancerous tumours as well as affected tissues in the body. It can be used to treat cancers in various parts of the body but, depending on the stage of the cancer, it is common for surgery to be used in conjunction with one or more of the above-mentioned treatments in order to ensure the cancerous cells have truly been destroyed.
Why get treatment abroad
In recent years, it has become common to travel for cancer treatment in order to get access to the latest therapies and the best doctors. With more than 200 types of cancer in existence, it is important to find the right treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome and getting treated abroad presents some key benefits:
• Avoid long waiting times – early detection improves treatment prognosis and being able to access care rapidly can make all the difference to the overall outcome whilst reducing stress for the patient
• More options - many countries have made great advancements in the procedures they offer for the treatment of cancer, meaning that there may be more options to choose from to help treat the condition than in your country
• Costs - with medical tourism increasingly developing, the possibility of finding the same treatment abroad for a more attractive price has also increased, helping patients to not have to sacrifice the quality of treatment over financial worries
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