Cancer can be a scary diagnosis and can have a significant toll on your physical and mental health. According to Cancer.org, as many as 1.9 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2022 in the US. But it’s important to remember that there is hope.
Cancer medications are available today that weren’t available even 30 years ago. While these treatments are not perfect and may cause side effects, they offer an opportunity for cancer patients to live longer, healthier lives.
This article will discuss some types of cancer medication used today, how they work, and what you should expect if you need this type of treatment.
Types of Cancer Therapies
Cancer therapies can be classified as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Each type of therapy is designed to target specific types of cancer cells. The goal is to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
Chemotherapy uses targeted rays that kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells by damaging their DNA or preventing them from dividing. In the case of breast cancer, patients are 17% less likely to experience a relapse after chemotherapy sessions. Anticancer medications are used to complement the therapy results.
For instance, Taxotere is a medicine used for stabilizing cancer cell growth. It prevents cancer cells from breaking down and reproducing.
On the other hand, hormone therapy works by lowering levels of certain hormones that promote cell growth in some types of breast cancers. It may also decrease the estrogen produced by the body’s ovaries or adrenal glands. Estrogen fuels breast tissue development, so when it’s reduced by hormone therapy, it can slow down tumor growth or shrink existing tumors in postmenopausal women who have hormone receptor-positive invasive ductal carcinomas.
Immunotherapy stimulates your immune system’s ability to fight off invaders like viruses and bacteria but also targets specific proteins on tumor cells called antigens. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Drugs are used with immunotherapy to fight cancer as they help improve your immune system. According to a study published in the Jama Network journal, 43.6% of cancer patients are eligible for ICI therapy in the US. 12.5% of them respond well to this treatment.
Targeted therapies block receptors on cancer cells, so they cannot receive signals from other substances needed for survival, such as insulin in melanoma skin cancer cases. These medications are used only after other types fail since they’re ineffective in all forms.
Potential Side Effects of Cancer Medications
There are many potential side effects of cancer medication. The most common side effect is fatigue, resulting from the treatment or the disease itself. Other common side effects include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, and joint pain.
Some medications can cause changes in bone marrow production, which may result in low platelet levels or anemia. Some chemotherapy drugs, called alopecia, may also cause hair loss or thinning hair on your head. In some cases where patients have received radiation therapy to their heads/faces over periods exceeding five years, there may be permanent damage to nerves controlling eye movement causing double vision.
Some common medications can also lead to vision loss. One such example is Taxotere, which is used alongside chemotherapy. Several patients have complained of having watery eyes and other optic injuries after using Taxotere.
If you or a loved one has faced such injuries, you can file a Taxotere watery eyes lawsuit against the manufacturer for not warning you about the potential problems. You only need to hire a lawyer with experience in product liability lawsuits. If you can prove that the watery eyes or other optic injuries you suffer result from using Taxotere, you can ask for a settlement amount from the manufacturer.
The number of such cases is constantly increasing. According to TorHoerman Law, the lawsuits will soon be consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL can help speed up the process so the plaintiffs can get justice quickly. The website also states that Taxotere has also been linked to hair loss besides watery eyes, and there are plenty of ongoing lawsuits in this aspect, too.
Inhibiting Cancerous Cell Growth
Cancer medications work by stopping the growth and division of cancerous cells. These drugs come in many different forms. Some are taken orally, while others are injected into your bloodstream through an IV line or catheter inserted into your body by a doctor.
It’s important to remember that cancer medications are not the only way to prevent cancerous cells from growing and dividing. They’re just one tool in your arsenal of cancer prevention methods. However, they can be effective when used properly, especially with other lifestyle changes.
For instance, cancer medications can work exceptionally if you prevent any stress on your body. This is because studies have shown that stress can also cause cancer cells to replicate and multiply fast. Stress triggers a chain of reactions in otherwise hibernating cells and causes cancer cells to form new tumors. Hence, making lifestyle changes to avoid stress can help improve treatment results.
Halting Uncontrolled Cell Division
Cancer cells divide uncontrollably, which is why they can overwhelm the body and cause it to become sick. Cancer medications stop cancerous cell growth, but sometimes they can also be used to treat disease or prevent it from returning.
The immune system plays a vital role in fighting off infections, including any conditions that may have been caused by cancerous cells. The immune system comprises many cells that work together to identify and destroy foreign substances, such as bacteria or viruses, that enter our bodies through cuts or scratches on our skin.
Starving Tumors of Nutrients and Oxygen
Starving tumors of nutrients and oxygen is a new treatment that may help to inhibit cancerous cell growth.
The idea is simple, you starve the tumor of nutrients and oxygen, inhibiting its growth. A few ways this can be done include blocking the blood supply to a tumor, directly attacking cancerous cells with drugs that destroy them or prevent them from dividing into new cells, or both at once by combining several different drugs in one cocktail.
Triggering Apoptosis (Programmed Cell Death)
Apoptosis is a natural process of programmed cell death, often triggered by activating a family of proteins called caspases. These proteins help to cleave other proteins so that lysosomes can degrade them.
Cancerous cells are not programmed to die and continue to divide uncontrolled. This leads to tumor growth and metastasis. Medications that target apoptosis are therefore used as treatment options for cancers where they must die off before they become too large or spread out into other areas of your body.
The Evolving Landscape of Cancer Medication
Cancer medication is a broad term that encompasses many different types of drugs. These can be used for the treatment of cancer or the prevention of cancer.
Cancer medications may include:
- Antibiotics, which are used to treat infections caused by bacteria such as streptococcus or staphylococcus.
- Anti-inflammatories reduce pain and inflammation by blocking enzymes that cause inflammation. Examples include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and celecoxib.
In conclusion, cancer medication is a promising treatment option that can help prevent cancerous cells from growing and spreading. These medications are effective in some cases but not others due to their side effects and potential for adverse interactions with other medications or conditions.
However, new research is being conducted every day on how best to use these drugs in combination with other therapies to be used safely with minimal side effects while still providing solid results against cancerous growths.