1. How should cancer be treated?
By surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of all these in the earliest possible stage of the disease. All these methods are available in India at various Hospitals.
2. Are radiation treatments good for all kinds of cancer?
No. Treatment depends on type and location of the growth. Some cancers will not respond to radiation treatment but must be treated by surgery or with hormones and chemotherapy.
3. How does Radiation act?
Radiation destroys dividing cells including cancer cells. Normal cells are also damaged. But now sophisticated machines are available which spare normal tissues and destroy cancer tissue with precision.
4. What is Internal Radiation?
Wires or tubes containing radioactive material are inserted into the cancer growth or in the tissue surrounding it, and removed after treatment is concluded. Radio-active material in suitable containers may also be paced in contact with the growth as in cancer cervix. Now a days, endo-luminal RT is also available for cancer of tubular structures like bronchus, oesophagus.
5. How effective is surgery?
Surgery is most effective in the early stages when cancer has not yet spread. Major advances in plastic and reconstructive surgery and anaesthesiology have ensured a very high degree of success.
6. What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy implies treatment with anti-cancer drugs and injections. Today we have a large number of highly effective drugs for cancer treatment.
7. Can the spread of cancer be stopped or retarded temporarily?
At times only. Certain types of cancerous growths, which can not be expected to be curable, may be, controlled temporarily by CT.Hormones/RT. Sooner or later, however, these growths fail to respond to further treatment.
8. What should you do if you think you may have cancer?
Report at once for a thorough examination by the Cancer Specialist.
9. Is cancer curable?
More than 80% of cancers today are completely curable if treated early. At times, however, cures have been obtained after the cancers have been present for a long time. The type of cancer and stage of cancer have an important bearing on its curability.
10. Is it ever possible to state that a cancer has been completely cured? If so, how much time must pass before the "cure" is recognized?
After a cancer patient has been treated and has remained free of recurrence of disease for a period of five years, the chances for re-appearance of the tumour are small. Occasionally cancer recurs ten or twenty years later. So, a life long follow up is a must for cancer patients to detect recurrence of disease as well as to detect other cancers.
11. If you have been cured of cancer, can you develop another cancer?
In the same place or in some other parts of the body?
Yes. Regardless of a patientís past medical history including the successful treatment of a previous cancer, he/she should be examined at regular intervals or as advised by a doctor. Because of the tendency for cancer to re-appear at the same place or in an adjacent place. A new cancer may also appear at another part of the body.
12. Is there any known vaccine cure for cancer?
No. A vaccine is of value only against a disease due to a germ. Cancer is not caused by a germ; therefore serums are of no value in its treatment. But researches are going on to find vaccines for different cancers.
13. Is it ever safe to rely on salves to "cure" cancer?
No. Paste or salve can not penetrate the tissues deep enough to destroy deep seated cancer cells.
14. What are side effects of Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy causes temporary side effects like nausea, vomiting, loss of hair and bone marrow suppression. Side effects of Chemotherapy vary with drug schedule used.
15. Will hormones cure cancer?
There is evidence today to indicate that treatment with certain hormones may prolong life and alleviate pain and suffering in certain breast and prostate cancers. Hormones are also useful as adjuvant after definitive treatment.
16. What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a new development based on the theory that the human body can be taught to defend itself against diseases including cancer. Immunotherapy is being tried in cancers like melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, etc.
17. What is the latest and most successful of the recently reported cancer treatments?
There is no single modality of treatment, which can achieve cure. Emphasis is on multimodal treatment e.g. combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatment. Now gene therapy and immunotherapy are upcoming modes of treatment but they are in experimental.
18. Is any real progress being made in cancer research and along what lines?
A lot of progress has been made in cancer research. We have understood cancer behaviour better. Diagnostic facilities have improved. Operative methods and radiation techniques have also improved. Newer chemotherapy drugs have been launched. Future is not fare off when we will have gene therapy and vaccines for cancer treatment.
19. What are your chances of getting cured?
More than 80% of the patient treated adequately in the early stages can be cured. Your chances of recovery are excellent, if you report for treatment very early after the cancer has developed.
20. Can you lead a normal life after cancer?
The sooner you come for treatment, the better the quality of life after cancer. Most cancer patients can return to their normal lives, even during treatment.
Published and issued by STATE CANCER
SOCIETY OF MEGHALAYA, for public interest.