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Personalized Cancer Treatment

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Personalized Cancer Treatment

The primary objective of cancer treatment is to kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. The tools available for the treatment of cancer are always changing through rapid and continuous advances in research that provide more options, improved efficacy and reduced side effects.

At Contemporary Oncology, our specialists work as a team combining tremendous expertise of medical oncology, hematology and neuro-oncology to create an optimal, personalized treatment plan for each patient. Also, our team cooperates closely with prominent radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and neuro-surgeons both in Greece, Europe and the USA to provide yet another level of coordinated care.

Advanced Chemotherapy

The majority of people diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy as their treatment and respond well to it. This approach helps treat their cancer effectively, enabling them to enjoy full, productive lives.

Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells using a single or a combination of medicines depending on the case. It is different from surgery or radiation therapy in that the cancer-fighting drugs circulate in the blood to parts of the body where the disease may have spread and can kill or eliminate cancers cells at sites distant from the original cancer. As a result, chemotherapy is considered a systemic treatment.

Chemotherapy treatment is administered according to exact schedules known as cycles that are determined by the type and stage of tumor and the selected regimen. These treatment cycles can be continuous or it may alternate between periods of treatment and periods of rest to let the patient recover. The total number of treatments the patient receives depends on numerous factors that are explained to the patient in detail by the oncologist.

Chemotherapy treatments are usually given as outpatient treatments in hospital or at the Contemporary Oncology infusion center and take anything from a few minutes to a little over 2 hours. However some regimens require longer infusions ranging from 4- 6 hours to inpatient stays or 24 hours or even longer. It is important that the patient not miss treatments sessions as this could affect the overall effectiveness of the cycle.

Chemotherapy treatment can be given in a variety of ways, the most common of which are:

  • infusions. Chemotherapy is most often given as an infusion into a vein by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm or into a device in a vein in the chest.
  • Oral. Some chemotherapy drugs can be taken in pill or capsule form orally.
  • Shots.Chemotherapy drugs can be injected with a needle (Intramuscular or Sub-dermal), just as a normal injection.

However in some rare occasions, chemotherapy is administered as follows

  • Creams.Creams or gels containing chemotherapy drugs can be applied to the skin to treat certain types of skin cancer.
  • Drugs used to treat one area of the body.Chemotherapy drugs can be given directly to one area of the body. For instance, chemotherapy drugs can be given directly in the abdomen, chest cavity, central nervous system or through the urethra into the bladder.
  • Chemotherapy given directly to the cancer. Chemotherapy can be given directly to the cancer or after surgery, where the cancer once was in the form thin disk-shaped wafers containing chemotherapy drugs during surgery. The wafers break down over time, releasing chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy drugs may also be injected into a vein or artery that directly feeds a tumor.

Non-chemotherapy Cancer Treatments

Conventional cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, cannot distinguish between cancer cells and healthy cells. Consequently, healthy cells are sometimes damaged in the process of treating the cancer, often resulting in side effects.

Advances in oncology research have led to the development of several different types of targeted therapies. Each of these new types of treatments targets cancer through different mechanisms and maybe even more effective and with fewer side effects than those conventional treatments.

Targeted therapies are medications that are created to block specific genes, proteins, or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. This type of treatment is the focus of much anticancer drug research. These types of medications are attacking the cancer cell that has the target while are less harmful to normal cells that do not have the specific target.

Hormones are chemical substances generated by the endocrine system and are naturally found in the body. Some cancers require specific hormones in the blood, which tell the cancer cells to grow uncontrollably. This is typical of certain types of breast, prostate, and uterine cancers. Medical research has developed medications that lower the levels of these specific hormones or that prevent the body from using them, resulting in an effective treatment that can cause cancer cell death. This is particularly effective in certain breast cancers.

Just like bacteria or viruses which are attacked and destroyed by the immune system because they are “foreign” to the body, cancer cells are at first recognized as dangerous by the body’s own immune system. However eventually cancer cells develop the ability to by pass or turn off the immune system defense.

Immunotherapy medications use a person’s own immune system to fight the cancer cells. They may stimulate, boost, or train a person’s own immune system to work better and harder when attacking cancer cells. This can done in one of the following two ways:

  • Through immunization of the patient by administering a cancer vaccine, in which case the patient’s own immune system is trained to recognize tumor cells as targets to be destroyed, or
  • Through the administration of therapeutic antibodies as drugs, in which case the patient’s immune system is recruited to destroy tumor cells by the therapeutic antibodies.

In cancer cases where immunotherapy is recommended, these treatments are more effective and less toxic than chemotherapy.