Cancer is one of the most serious problems in the modern world. It represents a class of diseases that are caused by mutations in genes. Such mutations result in uncontrolled division of cells in the body. And what makes this problem so serious is that these cells have an ability to invade other tissues. This invasion usually happens in two ways - by the growth of the tissue or by metastasis (in this case very distant sites in the body can be easily affected by disease).
There are several different treatment procedures for cancer. The actual procedures differ for different kinds of cancer but all the principles are similar. Basic techniques that are used today are surgery, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The choice of a particular method depends on location and staging of tumor. And of course, as long as all these techniques are pretty harmful general health of the patient plays an important role.
Surgery is a very effective method for treatment of cancer - with surgery cancer can be removed completely. But the problem is that the use of such technique as surgery is not always possible for treatment of cancer.
Another technique to treat cancer is so-called chemotherapy. Basic chemotherapy principles were developed in 1940-s. At that time such substances as nitrogen mustards came into use. Since those times there were many different developments in the area but those first chemotherapy principles are still applied. And these chemotherapy principles are pretty simple - as long as DNA mutation causes uncontrolled cell growth, disease can be stopped by affecting this growth.
Special drugs are used to impair mitosis and according to chemotherapy principles these drugs should affect fast dividing cells more efficiently. The class of such substances which cause cell damage is called "cytotoxic". Other substances that make cells' apoptosis (it is usually referred to as cells suicide) are also widely used in chemotherapy dosage. This technique is pretty effective but there is a problem. It is hard to find the actual chemotherapy dosage because small amount of drug won't be effective and excessive among can be very harmful for the patient.
So, to achieve good results chemotherapy dosage is chosen for each patient. There are also different chemotherapy treatment schemes that also allow to lower harmful effect for the patient.
In radiation therapy ionizing radiation is used to kill cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which affects the entire body, radiation therapy is used locally. That allows lowering the damage of normal tissues that are close to cancer tissue. Radiation affects cells' genetic material thus stopping their growth. And it also causes necrosis in cells. Unlike all the other methods used for treatment of cancer radiation therapy can be used in treatment of any kind of cancer.
Immunotherapy is another technique of cancer treatment - in that case immune mechanisms are used. Antibodies (monoclonal antibodies) are directed to fight cancer cells.