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Cancer Treatments


There are many types of cancer treatment and the treatment that you receive will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment but most people may have a combination of treatments such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. 

At our Radiation Oncology Suite and Nuclear Medicine Suite, cancer patients are seen by a multi-disciplinary teams for individualized treatment plans.

Chemotherapy is a common treatment procedure for cancer that uses drug therapy to destroy cancerous cells that grow from organs or blood in the body. The drugs inhibit the further growth and spread of cancerous cells and different combinations of medications can be used to destroy cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy can destroy cancer cells completely, and is often used in combination with other therapies, such as radiation, surgery or hormone therapy. It often follows the surgical removal of tumors so that any lingering cancer cells can be killed as well. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink a tumor prior to it's surgical removal. It can also treat cancer cells that have metastasised to other parts of the body far away from the primary tumor.

Chemotherapy is also used for non-cancer conditions such as preparing for a bone marrow stem cell transplant or it can be given in lower doses to control an overactive immune system.

Learn how to manage the side effects of chemotherapy here.

Hormone therapy lowers the levels of oestrogen or progesterone hormones in your body and helps to shrink a tumour and make it easier to remove. Hormone therapy may be used as the only treatment for breast cancer if your general health prevents you having surgery. It is received for 5 years or more after surgery.

Radiation therapy is one of three common treatments of cancer alongside chemotherapy and surgery. It is the use of wave beams such as X-rays, gamma rays or proton and electron beams, to damage or destroy cancer cells. It is also referred to as radiotherapy, x-ray therapy and irradiation.

This cancer treatment method can either be used alone or with their forms of treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery. It also involves the use of certain drugs and medications called radiosensitizers that make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation so they can be easily destroyed. There are various types of Radiation Therapy treatments and a patient may receive more than one type for the treatment of the same cancer.

Nuclear medicine therapy, also known as radionuclide therapy, is a form of precision treatment often used in the later stages of cancers when diseases become resistant to conventional treatments. Nuclear medicine physicians would administer radioactive drugs known as radionuclides, that bind to cancer cells to shrink or destroy them. Specific doses of radionuclides would be injected into the patient, which would then travel to cancerous cells to destroy them while sparing healthy organs or tissues.

Surgery is usually carried out when cancer cells or tumors are localized and contained in a specific area, and has not spread.

In breast cancer, breast-conserving surgery such as a lumpectomy or wide local excision is commonly performed, where the malignant tumor and a section of surrounding breast tissue is removed. It could also be a partial mastectomy, where part of the breast is removed. In breast-conserving surgery, the amount of breast tissue that is removed will depend on the type of cancer, tumor size and its location in breast as well as the breast size.
 

In skin cancer, the tumors and skin area most affected by the cancer is surgically removed, together with a margin of healthy skin. Treatments such as radiation or more surgery will be carried out if the margin is not clean and cancer cells are found in the removed tissue. In some cases, the area is then cauterized using electric needles and an electric current that stops the bleeding and destroys cancer cells in the area around the edge called the surgical margin. The process is repeated until all of the cancer is removed. 
The tumor can also be cut from the skin in thin layers and each layer is examined for cancer cells through a microscope. Layers are removed until no more cancer cells are detected. Minimal normal skin tissue is removed in this form of surgery that is usually performed on areas such as the face, fingers, or nose to conserve as much skin as possible. It is performed for larger, difficult-to-treat or recurring skin cancers.

To learn more about cancer treatments available at Farrer Park Hospital, consult our specialists at +65 6363 1818 or click here to make an appointment.