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Bringing Modern Cancer Care to Patients - - Canadian patients with cancer are welcome - by Dr Erich Armen
Thursday, August 29, 2013



When you are diagnosed with cancer, it may seem natural to assume the worst, but combinations of established and new treatments can make your outlook considerably brighter.



How Does Chemotherapy Work?


Your body produces cells all the time, and cells are commonly in different stages of development. Chemotherapy drugs typically only work on cells that are in the process of reproducing. Physicians plan infusions or treatments so that they are received based on correct timing of your cell phases. If you live in Canada, you can access some of the most successful cancer treatments from physicians in the United States.


Chemotherapy drugs are not able to distinguish between normal tissues and cancer cells reproducing. So, normal cells can be affected, resulting in side effects. As stated in, every time chemotherapy is given, your physician is trying to balance the process of destroying cancer cells and attempting to spare normal cells.



What Is Radiation Therapy?


Radiation is a cancer treatment that utilizes intense energy beams to kill the cells that harbor cancer in your body. It may get this power from X-rays or from other energy types, like protons.


During typical radiation treatment, high-energy beams from an external machine are aimed at precise points on your body. In brachytherapy, the radiation is actually placed within the body.  


Radiation therapy destroys the genetic materials that control the way cells grow and then divide. In the process, it damages these cells. It will be your physician’s goal to destroy the fewest number of normal cells and still destroy all the cancerous cells. About 50% of cancer patients receive radiation in their treatment plan, according to The Mayo Clinic. Radiation can treat benign (non-cancerous) tumors, as well.



How Is Radiation Used for Cancer Patients?


Your physician or oncologist may suggest that you have radiation therapy at various times in your treatment cycle. Sometimes it is done for different basic reasons. Those include:

  • Before a surgical procedure, to shrink a malignant tumor
  • As your primary cancer treatment
  • In combination with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy
  • After surgery, to halt cancer cell growth, if any remains
  • In advanced stages of cancer to alleviate cancer-related symptoms



Targeted Cancer Treatments


In recent studies, it has been determined that genetic mutations that cause tumors can be detected when researchers decode the DNA in tumors. Physicians and oncologists may now use newer drugs to treat the disease. This is done by selecting drugs that target each type of cancer.


The drugs may become part of a more “precision medicine approach”, where pinpoint drugs are able to treat tumors more effectively than chemotherapy, with little or no damage to healthy cells. Their goal is to reach a place where cancer can be managed and cured.


How Do the New Drugs Work?


Lung cancer, for example, is not treated similarly as several common diagnoses. Rather, it has been identified as a list of rare cancers. New drugs can target each cancer on the list. John V. Heymach, an MD Anderson Cancer Center specialist in Houston, states that over half of malignant tumors have some type of alteration that can be targeted with a specific drug. He was quoted in Wall Street Journal: Medicine.


Some of the oncology drugs currently in the stages of clinical development were designed to target the mutations of cancer. This precision medicine will be changing the way researchers think about the development of new cancer drugs.


In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration set up a designation for cancer drugs. It is called the “breakthrough therapy designation”. This was established to hasten the approval of some experimental drugs that have very striking benefits in their early drug trials. Many of these medications target cancer mutations.


Canadian patients are welcome in Buffalo Niagara for comprehensive cancer care. Contact us for more information.







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