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It is a misconception that cancers are incurable, since the current methods of treatment are effective in many cancers. Many patients are cured and more could be cured if their cancers were detected early and treated promptly.


The aim of cancer treatment is to cure affected patients and save their lives. Where complete cure is not feasible, treatment aims to control the disease and keep patients normal and comfortable, as long as possible. Treatment of each patient is designed to suit the individual and depends on the age of the patient, as well as the stage and type of disease.


There are five main modalities of treatment: Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, Hormone therapy and Immunotherapy. Surgery and radiotherapy aim at eradicating the disease from the primary site (site of origin) of cancer, whereas chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy deal with cancers which may have spread outside the site of origin of cancer.



Surgery is the most crucial part of the treatment for cancer. Surgery attempts to remove cancer cells from the body by removing the tumor and some area of tissue surrounding it since these may contain invading cancer cells. It is a simple, safe and effective method when the cancer is small and confined to the site of origin. It is best suited to certain types of cancers such as breast cancer, Head and Neck Cancers, early cancers of the cervix and lung, many Skin Cancers, soft tissue cancers and gastrointestinal cancers.



Radiotherapy is another important form of cancer treatment and is now used in over two-third of the patients. Advances in radiotherapy equipment, techniques and applications, have led to an increasing role in local treatment and whole-body treatment. Radiation is delivered by high energy photo-beams or originating from radioactive substances and delivered by special machines. These radioactive x-rays or gamma rays can penetrate the cell wall and damage the nuclei of cells. This prevents growth and division of these malignant cells. While this also affects the adjoining normal cells, these cells can recover from sub-lethal damage better than cancer cells.



Chemotherapy uses drugs which interfere with the growth and division of malignant cells. Once these drugs are administered, they circulate throughout the body and hence this is more advantageous in the management of cancers that have spread throughout the body like leukemias, lymphomas, and testicular cancers.  


Essentially the treatment of cancer is multidisciplinary with combinations of Surgery, Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy in a specific sequence depending on the disease site and stage.


Hormone Therapy 

Hormone Therapy has limited use in cancer treatment since only a small minority of tumors are hormone sensitive e.g. breast and prostate cancer.

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