Cancer has existed for thousands of years, impacting the lives of people throughout history. Only in recent times has there been such concentrated and effective advancements that cancer has become far more treatable and manageable. Despite people seeking solutions to cancer since its discovery, it’s only with present-day technological and scientific knowledge built upon years of research that cancer patients today face a more hopeful prognosis. Here’s a brief overview of how cancer treatments have evolved to their current state.
Records from thousands of years ago show that people with cancer received surgery to remove their tumor or tumors. Although surgery is still a possible treatment option for cancer today, it’s performed with much greater precision and purpose. This is thanks to screening technology making it easier for doctors to identify and locate the cancer cells prior to surgery. In the eighteenth century, scientists discovered the difference between cancers that hadn’t spread to other parts of the body and could therefore be removed, and cancers that had spread that would come back despite surgery.
During the late nineteenth century, soon after the discovery of X-rays, radiation started being used to treat cancer. Doctors exposed their cancer patients to X-rays and saw positive results. However, early use of radiation treatment didn’t take into account the risk of radiation poisoning. Nowadays, research in this field continues to refine the treatment and reduce risks.
Chemotherapy is the controlled use of poisons that restrict cell division. Since cancer involves cells replicating more than they should, chemotherapy is designed to counteract this. Like with other forms of cancer treatment, chemotherapy comes with potential side effects such as nausea, hair loss, infertility, and other ailments.
Targeted therapy is a form of treatment that, unlike radiation or chemotherapy, aims to avoid damaging healthy cells while destroying cancerous ones. Doctors review the diagnosis for each patient specifically and use this to create a unique targeted plan. For example, at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, you can receive targeted therapy based on your needs. People who undergo this treatment tend to experience fewer side effects compared to radiation or chemotherapy. It’s also easier for the doctor to predict the outcome of targeted treatment.
With a greater understanding of cancer comes more innovative treatment possibilities. For example, immunotherapy seeks to train a patient’s body to generate cancer-fighting techniques itself. There are different kinds of immunotherapy, some of which involve helping the patient’s body to recognize and attack cancerous cells without harming healthy ones.
Since precision is so vital when treating cancer, it helps to have an individual’s unique genetic information to hand when creating a treatment plan. Genomic profiling allows doctors to analyze their patients’ genes and identify personalized methods to combat their specific cancer.
Thanks to the exponential nature of research and development, scientists can quickly build upon existing knowledge to further the field of cancer treatment and care. From a broad historical standpoint, it’s only recently that cancer has become treatable. Considering the pace at which these developments have taken place, there’s plenty of hope for the discovery of newer and better treatments in the future.