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The links above provide information on the optimum management of various common cancers based on the evidence for the best current guidelines.
Cancers are usually named by the origin they have originated from (even if they have spread). This is a simplification as each organ is capable of developing several different types of cancer depending on their cell of origin. The management of individual cancer types for different patients is very complex and the emphasis of one treatment over an other can vary depending on which organ the cancer originates, which cells they are derived from. Even the management of patients with the same cancer can vary enormously depending on the grade of the cancer (how aggressive the cells look down a microscope) and how the stage (how far it has spread). Even the management of individuals with the same stage and grade can change depending on the condition and general health of the patient. Finally there may be differences in the management between different doctors or institutions depending on their scientific opinion and experience.
What cells or organs do cancers come from? Any cell in the body can potentially become cancererous but the broad categories are:-
Glands - adenocarcinomas (eg breast, pancreas, prostate, mucous glands in gut and lung.
Surfaces of structures - squamous cell carcinomas (eg skin, lung, head and neck area)
Bladder of linings of the tubes from the kidney - Transitional cell carcinoma)
Muscles, nerves and connective tissues - Sarcomas
Starting in lymph nodes - Lymphomas
Blood forming structures - leaukaemias
From cells to support the brain cells - Gliomas
Sometimes the cells of organs can change form one type to another (dysplasia) and they a cancer form from that ( squamous cell carcinoma from lung, oesphagous or bladder).
Cancer treatments may involve surgery alone or combined with one or all of the individual therapies listed below. Surgery may recommended be to obtain a diagnosis or to completely excise the cancer. Surgery is usually performed first but is some cases it may be recommended after either chemotherapy, hormones or radiotherapy (neoadjuvant therapy).
The use of high energy x-rays to treat patients with malignant disease. Radiotherapy beams can be directed very accurately to any area of the body using highly sophisticated machines. The most commonly used of these are called a linear accelerators, with other machines called orthovoltage or superficial depending on the energy of the X-rays required. It is also possible to deliver radiotherapy to small volumes of the body using radioactive wires or seeds, which produce gamma rays.
The use of drugs or chemicals to treat cancer. These can be given orally or into a vein and essentially poison the cells in the body - It successful more cancer cells than normal cells or killed. Your cancer specialist has a choice of over fifty different drugs that can be used as single agents or in a variety of different combinations.
Many tumours particularly breast and prostate are stimulated by the bodies own hormones (usually the female hormone oestrogen or the male hormone testosterone). Hormone therapy uses strategies to stop or reduce the bodies hormones reaching the tumour cause the cancer cells and by doing so stop them growing.
The use of biological agents which specifically target genetic sites within the tumour or supportive tissues. They can be broadly classified as small molecules - usually tyrosine kinase receptors (e.g. Sunitinib) or monoclonal antibodies (Mab) which are large molecules (e.g. Herceptin) which attack via the immune system either on the blood vessels (anti-angiogenesis) or the also the tyrosine kinase pathway.
Sometimes it is possible to damage tumours by using sound waves - High frequency Ultrasound (HIFU) or freezing them (Cryotherapy)
This refers to supportive methods that are used to complement, or add to, mainstream treatments. Examples might include meditation to reduce stress, peppermint tea for nausea, and acupuncture for chronic back pain. Some of the methods, such as massage therapy, yoga, and meditation, that are categorized as complementary have actually been referred to as supportive care in the past.
Our editorial panel has either written information guidance for the common cancers. For less common cancer the editorial board has selected another international website sources of quality information.
Although great emphasis has been placed on the accuracy of the information, cancernet cannot accept responsibility for errors in our pages or those hyperlinked. Furthermore, this information is not designed to provide medical advice or professional services but is intended to be for educational use only.
The information provided is not a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. If you have, or suspect you have, a health problem you should consult your doctor. Inclusion or exclusion of any product does not imply that its use is either advocated or rejected. Use of trade names is for production identification only and does not imply endorsement.