Cancer Treatment Options: Latest Results 2023/24

Cancer Treatment Options: Latest Results 2023/24

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, the initial step involves making decisions about cancer treatment. It is crucial for patients and their families to carefully consider the available treatment methods and select the most suitable one based on the options provided. To make an informed choice, it is essential to conduct research, have discussions with family members, and understand the potential side effects of each treatment option.

Types of Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment approaches vary depending on the type of cancer and its stage. Some individuals may undergo a single type of treatment, while others may receive a combination of treatments. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, but seeking advice from a doctor can alleviate some of these concerns. The main pillars of cancer treatment include:


Chemotherapy is a commonly used cancer treatment that employs medications to kill cancer cells. It aims to treat cancer, prevent the spread of cancer cells, stop the recurrence of cancer, slow down cancer growth, and reduce the size of large tumors to alleviate pain and other symptoms. Chemotherapy can be administered alone or in combination with other treatments. However, it can also harm healthy cells, resulting in side effects such as hair loss, mouth sores, fatigue, and stomach problems.


Cancer surgery involves the removal of cancerous tissue. It may be performed through a large or small incision, depending on the tumor’s location. Additionally, other surgical methods like cryosurgery, which uses cold temperatures to destroy cancer cells, can be utilized. Surgery is generally used for cancers confined to a specific area, unlike chemotherapy, which treats cancer throughout the body. It is often combined with other treatment options.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy employs high-dose energy rays, such as particles, x-rays, or radioactive seeds, to damage cancer cells. It may be used alone or in combination with other treatment modalities. Radiation therapy can shrink large tumors and alleviate symptoms of advanced cancer. There are three methods of delivering radiation therapy: external beam radiation, internal radiation, and systemic radiation therapy.


Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It boosts the immune system’s ability to target cancer cells in a more focused manner. Immunotherapy drugs are administered intravenously and specifically target certain parts of cancer cells. The goal of immunotherapy is to slow down or halt the growth of cancer cells, prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, and enhance the immune system’s ability to eliminate cancer cells.

Photodynamic Therapy

In photodynamic therapy, the patient is given a light-sensitive drug that stays longer in cancer cells than in healthy cells. Subsequently, light is directed at the cancer cells using a laser or other light source, causing the drug to become active and damage the cancer cells.


Hyperthermia involves using heat to destroy cancer cells without harming normal cells. Heat is applied through a machine, probe, or needle placed in the tumor. Hyperthermia can be applied to specific body parts or cells.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is used to treat cancers caused by hormones, such as ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers. It involves blocking the body’s hormones using drugs or surgery to slow down the growth of cancer cells. Surgery may entail the removal of hormone-producing organs, such as the testes or ovaries, while drugs can be administered orally or through injections.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy focuses on stopping cancer from spreading and growing using specific drugs. It can stimulate the immune system, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, or mitigate side effects resulting from treatment. Unlike other treatments, targeted therapy causes less harm to normal cells. Targeted drugs may kill cancer cells, induce cell death, or inhibit their growth and spread. Types of targeted treatments include cancer growth inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, angiogenesis inhibitors, and vaccines.

Bone Marrow Transplant or Stem Cell Transplant

A bone marrow transplant, also known as a stem cell transplant, involves replacing bone marrow or stem cells destroyed by high doses of radiotherapy or chemotherapy. It is commonly used to treat lymphomas and blood cancers. There are two types of stem cell transplants: high-dose treatment with stem cell support, which involves storing the patient’s stem cells and returning them after treatment, and allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplants, which replace the affected bone marrow with new bone marrow.


Cryotherapy uses freezing gas to kill and freeze cancer cells. It can be used to treat pre-cancerous cells, such as those on the skin or cervix, and can also be delivered through specialized instruments to target tumors in the prostate or liver.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy destroys cancer cells using a narrow and focused light beam. It is performed using a thin, flexible tube placed inside the body that directs the light onto the cancer cells. Lasers are used in conjunction with other cancer treatments and can also be used to treat skin cancer.

Goals of Cancer Treatment

The primary goal of cancer treatment is to cure cancer and allow the patient to resume a normal life. However, this may not always be possible depending on the individual’s circumstances. In cases where a cure is not achievable, treatment may aim to shrink or slow down cancer growth to provide symptom relief for an extended period. Cancer treatment can be used in the following ways:

Primary Treatment

Primary treatment is focused on removing or eliminating all cancer cells from the body. Surgery is the most common form of primary treatment, but chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be given if the cancer is responsive to these modalities.

Adjuvant Treatment

Adjuvant treatment aims to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence by targeting any remaining cancer cells after primary treatment. Various cancer treatments can be used as adjuvant therapy, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. Neoadjuvant treatment is used before primary treatment to facilitate the process or enhance its effectiveness.

Palliative Treatment

Palliative treatment is aimed at alleviating the side effects of cancer treatment or managing symptoms caused by cancer. Treatments such as hormone therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can help manage signs and symptoms, while other interventions can help reduce pain and improve breathing. Palliative treatment is often used in conjunction with other therapies to address cancer.

Future Trends in Cancer Treatment

Advancements in cancer treatment are continually being explored, and four promising approaches show potential for the future:

Cell Therapy

CAR-T cell therapy is a novel cancer treatment that involves extracting immune T-cells and genetically modifying them to target specific cancer antigens. Research is underway to develop an improved generation of CAR-T treatment that can target a broader range of cancers beyond its current application for certain rare forms of cancer.

Personalized Cancer Vaccines

Cancer-causing genetic mutations can alter healthy cells into tumor cells, making them an essential focus for new cancer therapies. Personalized vaccines are tailored to individual tumors and may vary depending on the type of tumor. They hold promise for cancers with numerous mutations, such as bowel and lung cancers, and can be used alongside other technologies like CAR-T therapy for cancers with lower mutation rates, such as prostate or ovarian cancer.

Microbiome Treatment

Microbiome treatment is an innovative approach to cancer treatment using cancer vaccines. The human microbiome, which consists of microorganisms found in our bodies, plays a crucial role in health. Cancer vaccines have been developed based on tumor-mimicking molecules that elicit a robust immune response against the tumor, making it visible to other forms of cancer therapy.

Gene Editing

CRISPR/Cas9 technology has simplified and expedited gene editing by precisely modifying DNA sequences. In cancer treatment, this technology is used to remove a gene from immune T-cells that tumor cells can exploit to attack the immune system. Additionally, CRISPR technology can enhance cancer therapies like CAR-T.

Bottom Line

Cancer treatment involves the use of radiation, surgery, medication, and other therapies to cure, shrink, or halt the progression of cancer cells. Many treatment options with high survival rates are available when cancer is detected early. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, one or a combination of treatments may be recommended. Consulting with a doctor to understand the risks and benefits of each treatment is essential in determining the best course of action.