A Quick Guide to Cancer Basics
Your treatment options will depend on the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and your overall health. During your cancer treatment, a number of different doctors will work together to create an overall plan that will likely combine various options. Although your healthcare provider and medical team can make recommendations on the best treatment options for your particular case, the final decisions are made by you based on your personal preferences.
A number of treatment options may be available for you. Some of these include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Stem cell transplant
- Hormone therapy.
There may also be some clinical trials you are interested in participating in, which can offer some of the newest advances in treatment (see Should I Participate in a Cancer Clinical Trial?).
Unfortunately, anyone can develop cancer. However, the risk of developing it tends to increase with age. Around 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in people who are 55 years old and older.
The estimated new cases and death from cancer in the United States in 2014 are as follows:
- New cases: 1,665,540
- Deaths: 585,720.
For those diagnosed with cancer between 2001 and 2007, the five-year relative survival rate was 67 percent, which is up from 49 percent in 1975 to 1977. These improvements in survival reflect the progress that has been made in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier stage.
Although no one is immune from developing cancer, the risk of having it may be minimized by several factors. Some of the ways to reduce your risk include living a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking.
It's also important to follow your doctor's recommendations for proper screening, such as yearly mammograms, Pap smears, and prostate screening. Because cancer may not have any symptoms, don't put these preventive measures off. Screening methods are designed to check for cancer in people who don't have any symptoms. The earlier you catch this disease, the better your chances are for a successful treatment.
While cancer can be a roller coaster of emotions and decisions, becoming familiar with how this disease is diagnosed and treated can help empower you with the information you need to make a decision that is best for you and your family.