Cancer is undeniably the most lethal, scariest and misunderstood disease. The hope of cancer treatment lies in education. It is always a good approach to have a detailed idea of the disease one is suffering from. This holds especially true when it comes to a deadly disease like cancer. It has a language of its own, and if someone is recently diagnosed with cancer, during the treatment process, they may encounter many terms that sound confusing and unfamiliar.
Our experts in the best cancer hospital in India believe that believes that learning the terms can help anyone regain a sense of control and understand the disease and treatment process better.
Doctors follow a customised approach for each patient and stress on the fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ rule when it comes to cancer treatment. Thus, there is need for learning the basics. Here are 8 cancer terms that every patient should know.
Oncology – a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. Specialists who are involved in the treatment of cancer are called oncologists. They keep themselves updated with the new advancements in the field and imply the required treatment option to improve the patient’s condition. Medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology are the three primary disciplines of oncology.
A biopsy is a medical test that involves the extraction of tissues or sample cells from the body to determine the presence or extent of cancer. This test helps the oncologists to decide the best treatment and approach to treating cancer. Tissue samples are mostly withdrawn through needles; however, in some cases, surgical removal of samples is also performed.
A tumour is an abnormal mass of tissue that may be fluid-filled or solid. Tumours are classified into two types – benign or malignant. The former is non-cancerous, and latter is cancerous. The treatment of a malignant tumour depends on its size and location while benign can be ignored or treated by debulking surgery. Malignant tumours are treated by multidisciplinary management usually comprising of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted agents and/ or radiation therapy. Treatment modalities are decided based on site and type of cancer.
The spread of malignant cells to other parts of the body through the blood or lymph system is called metastasis. Metastatic cancer is among the leading cause of cancer deaths around the world.
Different types of cancers are categorised in different stages with increasing bulk of disease in the body. The stage describes the size and severity of the disease and also helps the oncologists to go ahead with the right treatment option for each patient.
Resection of tumour completely with a safe margin of surrounding normal tissue is one of the basic principles of cancer surgery. Cancer surgery usually also includes the removal of local draining lymph nodes. It is mainstay of curative treatment in most of solid organ cancers.
Often shortened as Chemo, chemotherapy is a widely used cancer treatment that works throughout the body and kills cancer cells. This treatment typically includes a single or a combination of medicines that slow or stop the growth of the cancer cells. The drugs used in chemotherapy are either introduced directly into the bloodstream with an aim to attack the rapidly dividing cancer cells throughout the body or targeted to specific cancer sites.
Often referred as radiotherapy, radiation therapy is implied to shrink tumours and kill cancer cells using high-energy radiation. The types of radiation used for cancer treatment include charged particles, gamma rays and X-rays. The dosage of radiation therapy depends on the type of cancer, general health of the patient and the location of cancer.
Also known as biologic therapy, immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. In this treatment, the immune system function is restored and improved using substances either made in a laboratory or by the body. The type and severity of cancer decide the type of immunotherapy that is required to treat the disease.
As the treatment progresses, the cancer patients are bound to know many other diseases related terms. Anyone who has cancer should never hesitate in knowing more about the new terms.