Understanding one's prostate cancer treatment options is a vital part of easing anxiety about the diagnosis and making informed care decisions. Those newly diagnosed must sort through a lot of information; our oncology team is here to help. This brief overview of how prostate cancer treatment works aims to help patients make sense of their…
Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Options From an Oncologist
Gastrointestinal cancer treatment usually involves a combination of multiple therapies and a customized treatment plan designed to help give each patient a positive outcome. Getting a cancer diagnosis is never easy, but knowing your options and how our oncology team can help can begin to ease anxieties. Though each patient's plan is unique, here is a quick look at how gastrointestinal cancer treatment works and what may be involved.
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer explained
Gastrointestinal cancer or GI cancer refers to cancer that develops anywhere in the digestive tract. The digestive or GI tract begins at the esophagus and ends at the anus. It is one of the most common cancers worldwide and can affect a number of major organs, including the colon, stomach, liver, pancreas, and esophagus. Cancer happens when a change in DNA causes the growth of abnormal cells. What causes this has yet to be entirely understood, but it could be due to underlying conditions, genetics, environment, lifestyle choices, or a combination of these things.
Gastrointestinal cancer treatment plans vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of cancer, its location, how far it has progressed, and the patient's age and overall health. An oncologist will examine the patient and conduct a series of tests to determine each patient's treatment plan. Possible treatments may include one or more of the following.
Surgery for gastrointestinal cancer treatment involves removing the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue. Surgery is a common treatment for localized GI cancer and may be the only treatment needed for certain types of cancers that have not spread. However, surgery is usually combined with other treatments. The surgery can involve a traditional open surgical procedure or a more minimally invasive technique such as laparoscopic surgery.
Chemotherapy is the use of oral or intravenous medication to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. This treatment helps treat cancers that have spread or cannot be surgically treated. Chemotherapy can be administered before or after a surgical procedure. For example, an oncologist may recommend this treatment to shrink a tumor so that surgery to remove it can be more effective.
Targeted therapy also involves the use of medicine to kill cancer cells. However, unlike chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells as well as cancer cells, this therapy targets only the cancer cells, limiting the impact on healthy cells. Depending on the patient and the cancer, targeted therapy may be used instead of or in addition to chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy is often combined with surgery and other therapies. This treatment targets and kills cancer cells using powerful beams of energy. Like chemotherapy, it can shrink a tumor, making it easier to remove or be applied after surgery to kill cancer cells not removed during surgery.
Immunotherapy combats some forms of GI cancers. This treatment uses medicine to stimulate the body's immune system to identify and kill cancer cells. There are different types of immunotherapy that work in different ways. Some treatments work by helping the immune system stop the growth of cancer cells, and others work to destroy cancer cells or prevent their spread.
Some GI cancers use hormones to grow. According to Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, higher levels of certain sex hormones are associated with an elevated risk of certain forms of GI cancer. Hormone therapy is a type of cancer treatment that adds, blocks, or removes certain hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, that cancer cells use to grow. Like other therapies, it can be used before surgery to shrink a tumor and after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
What patients can do
When dealing with cancer, it feels like so many things are outside your control. However, there are things patients can do to support successful cancer treatment. A number of lifestyle changes, such as exercise, healthy eating, managing stress, and avoiding smoking, can help prevent GI cancers and help cancer treatment plans be more effective. In addition, patients should strive to maintain a healthy weight and drink alcohol only in moderation.
More about GI cancer treatment
At Lindenberg Cancer & Hematology Center, we provide state-of-the-art treatment and customized care for those with cancer. Our oncology team strives to ensure cancer patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Call us today to learn more about gastrointestinal cancer treatment and how we can help.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment in Marlton, NJ.
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