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If you or a loved one receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s important to know what treatment options and resources are available to you.
In early 2004, RMC became only the third hospital in the nation to purchase and install the Varian Acuity Simulator®. This powerful digital machine uses virtual simulation to pinpoint a patient’s cancerous cells. This technology allows for the most sophisticated and safest means to place and verify radiation treatments to treat all forms of cancer and allows patient treatment plans to be more precise, actually increasing cancer cure rates.
Here are the most common ways the multidisciplinary cancer team at RMC can effectively treat and defeat cancer on your path to recovery:
Surgery may be used as an option to diagnose, treat and even prevent cancer. When diagnosing cancer, a physician typically performs a biopsy, or extracts a sample of tissue from the suspicious area, to determine if it’s cancerous (malignant) or not (benign). Biopsies can be performed on an outpatient basis. When surgery is used for treatment, the cancer and some of the adjacent tissue may be removed. Surgery can also be helpful in collecting information to predict whether or not the cancer will return.
Chemotherapy involves the use of medicine to treat cancer. Many patients diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy. The thought of having chemotherapy may be a scary thought, but for millions of people, this approach is effective and gets them back to enjoying full, productive lives. Many side effects once associated with chemotherapy can now be prevented and/or controlled, allowing people to go on with their normal activities during treatment. Chemotherapy may be administered intravenously, injected into a body cavity, or delivered orally in the form of a pill.
At RMC, our radiation oncologists have access to the latest state-of-the-art technology to conform and guide modulated radiation beams to damage and kill cancer cells. Like surgery, radiation therapy is a localized treatment used to eradicate cancerous tissue. It may be externally or internally delivered. Radiation may be used alone, or it may be used in conjunction with other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and surgery. Available Technology includes:
- 3-D Radiotherapy – The use of 3-dimensional treatment planning to deliver conformal precise treatment.
- Electron Therapy – Used for treating superficial cancers such as skin cancer, keloids and other cancers that are not deep under the skin.
- IMRT – Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
- IGRT – Image Guided Radiation Therapy
- SRS – Stereotactic Radiosurgery – Intracranial
- SBRT – Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy – Extracranial
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy. Hormone therapy falls into two broad groups, those that block the body’s ability to produce hormones and those that interfere with how hormones behave in the body. The two most common uses for hormonal therapy are for Breast and Prostate Cancers.
The immune system’s natural capacity to detect and destroy abnormal cells may prevent the development of many cancers. However, cancer cells are sometimes able to avoid detection and destruction by the immune system.
Cancer cells may:
- reduce the expression of tumor antigens on their surface, making it harder for the immune system to detect them
- express proteins on their surface that induce immune cell inactivation
- induce cells in the surrounding environment (microenvironment) to release substances that suppress immune responses and promote tumor cell proliferation and survival
In the past few years, the rapidly advancing field of cancer immunology has produced several new methods of treating cancer, called immunotherapies, which increase the strength of immune responses against tumors. Immunotherapies either stimulate the activities of specific components of the immune system or counteract signals produced by cancer cells that suppress immune responses. These advances in cancer immunotherapy are the result of long-term investments in basic research on the immune system—research that continues today.
Precision medicine refers to the use of information about the genes, proteins, and other features of a person’s cancer to diagnose or treat their disease. Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine. It is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells, which help them grow, divide, and spread. As researchers learn more about the cell changes that drive cancer, they are better able to design promising therapies that target these changes or block their effects. Targeted therapies are designed to only treat the cancer cells, and therefore, minimize damage to normal, healthy cells. In order to become cancer cells, healthy cells must go through a process called carcinogenesis. Targeted therapy disrupts this process and the cellular changes necessary for development and growth.