Metastatic cancers are those cancers that spread from the primary organ. Any treatment of a form of cancer is dependent on whether or not it has spread to other organs. There is no substitute for early detection and treatment. Early treatment for metastatic cancer can prevent cancer from spreading to other tissues and organs which may also increase a patient’s likelihood of survival. Some of these treatments are discussed below.
Types of treatment for metastatic cancer
Today, we have many effective treatments for metastatic cancer that a patient can choose. However, metastatic treatments fall into three main categories:
Complete Body Treatment: For this type, chemotherapy or anti-cancer medication may be prescribed. This treatment can reach all parts of the body and radiation therapy.
Treatment for Secondary Tumor: This treatment includes localized surgery and removal of the tumor. It may also include localized radiation therapy on the secondary tumor alone
Pain Relief: This is a procedure that is called palliative therapy and is reserved for advanced cases of metastasis.
Surgery is often given in combination with chemotherapy. Surgery may also be performed on the liver using laparoscopic surgery techniques. The main purpose of surgery is to remove the affected tumor in the part of the body where the cancer is located. However, if metastatic cancer affects the vertebrae, the patient may be required to undergo vertebroplasty.
Several anticancer drugs such as oxaliplatin and irinotecan are used to treat metastatic cancer, especially liver metastasis (if spread to the area). Chemotherapy may be administered through intravenous infusion or apply directly to the affected region with a method known as hepatic arterial infusion.
These treatments target the cancer cells alone. The purpose is to cut off the cancer cells’ blood supply and kill the tumors. They are called anti-angiogenesis agents, and they include bevacuzimab or Avastin. Other types of drugs may be used, and they are called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Inhibitors. The drugs help block epidermal growth factor receptor, which is a protein that may contribute to the spread of colorectal cancer. Also, biologic therapy may be used in combination with many chemotherapy drugs to improve the effectiveness of treatment for metastatic cancer.
For patients who cannot undergo surgery, they may need to undergo image-guided therapies. These treatments use imaging techniques such as CT, ultrasound, x-ray, and MRI to help guide the delivery of treatments directly to the tumor site. They can be utilized alone along with chemotherapy.
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