Medically, most cancers are best treated with surgery. When surgery is not indicated, cytotoxic drugs are used such as in chemotherapy (now we are entering the age of immunotherapy and targeted therapies). Besides these, patients are also told to undergo radiation therapy. Often 2 or more modalities are used with the hope of getting the best results.
The goal of treatment is to kill as many cancerous cells while reducing damage to normal cells nearby. This is a hard call. Because the toxic treatments may do more harm than good in some patients.
We also need to remember that a cancer in one individual can be very different from the cancer in another individual even though they are the same type of cancer. Within a single type of cancer, such as breast cancer, researchers are now discovering different subtypes that requires to be treated differently.
Perhaps this is the reason why Dr. C. Kent Osborne, director of Breast Cancer at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston said:
- Everybody was treated the same way, despite the fact that we know some patients did well no matter what we did and other patients did poorly and died no matter what we did.
Let me share with you some of the “many things” that I learned over the years about cancer and its treatment.
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