What is Cancer Therapy?

The advancement of medical technology has improved the chances of survival for cancer patients. Doctors for cancer patients conduct a therapeutic approach. Two basic processes of cancer therapy include chemotherapy and radiotherapy. New processes include hormonal therapy and immunotherapy that clearly show visible results.

Reasons for the occurrence of Cancer

Normal cells turn cancerous due to changes in cellular functions. Generally, there is a limit to the number of times a cell can divide. Due to specific mutations, the cell function changes. As a result of the mutation, uncontrolled cell growth starts. It can result in both benign and malignant growth. When the uncontrolled cell growth reaches malignancy, the condition is known as cancer.

Mutations can occur as a result of different types of factors. These include physical and chemical mutagens that cause changes in the genetic character. Abnormal gene functions cause the cells to divide without control. It results in the generation of tumors which can induce the neighboring cells to be cancerous.

Notable types of Cancer

Some common types of cancer are breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer (CRC). Based on the recent statistics, these are the most common types of cancer all around the world. They occur under different circumstances and recent research suggests that not all cancer is random. There are ample chances of cancer as a hereditary disorder where mutated genes are passed from one generation to the next.

Cancer formation is not just random as specific gene mutations are found to be associated with specific cancer. The mechanism of a cell turning cancerous due to the gene mutation gets analyzed. Based on that, cancer treatment and cancer care are determined. It is performed to block the pathway with the help of drugs, that are specialized inhibitors. This is why chemotherapy is still by far the most sought-after treatment for cancer patients.


Experimental pie chart of the different types of cancer in the different regions of the body
CC BY-3.0 | Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Fabien PETEL

Cancer patients need to go through a long diagnostic process to detect the type of cancerous growth and the region where cancer cells are present. It includes radio-imaging techniques that are specific for detecting the presence of tumor-like growth. It is used to understand not just the location but the level of growth and threat to the patient. Based on the diagnosis, cancer stages are categorized to determine specific effects. The cancer-related treatment needs to be directed according to the specific region where such a condition takes place.


The immune system becomes the target of the cancerous cells. Immune cells control the growth of cells that are functioning abnormally. Cancer cells can evade the immune system through their adaptive character. Immunotherapy includes immune enhancers that target cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies can be another way to introduce targeted immunotherapy for cancer cells.

Some drugs that are preventing the overexpression of the immune cells can damage self-cells. These drugs direct the immune function towards the cancerous tissues. Above all, the best process of immunotherapy is using T-cell transfer. It induces the T-cells to act against cancer by targeting the tumor cells from the body and then determining the best-fit T-cells that work against the cancerous cells.


Radiotherapy introduces specific doses of radiation that have the potential to destroy the cancerous cells or arrest the neighboring cells from becoming cancerous. Radiation is directed to the cancer cells as it stops the cells from growing further. Radiation therapy is combined treatment with chemotherapy or surgery. After surgical removal of tumors, the surrounding cells may possess residual cancer cells that may again show malignancy. So radiation therapy is introduced to reduce the chances of relapse. As the patient is going through treatment for cancer, it needs such therapeutic changes.

Radiation therapy for cancer treatment
CC-BY-SA-4.0 | Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Jakembradford


Many drugs are available for the treatment of different types of cancer. New drugs are always introduced which are going through clinical trials for determining their efficacy and side effects. If the newly introduced drug has better efficacy, then it can be introduced. It is the way cancer treatment research gets conducted.

Chemotherapy is based on either the introduction of a drug or targeted therapeutic processes. The chemotherapy drug is introduced inside the system using the intravenous introduction method. The drug reaches its target cancer cells via the blood and acts on the cancer cells to stop the cancer cells from dividing and growing. Drugs are specific for the type of cancer and act in reducing cancerous effects locally or even in the case of malignancy. 


Chemotherapy is processing in a patient's body who is suffering from abdominal cancer
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Cancer Research UK

Hormonal therapy

Hormone therapy is not just to treat cancer but also to reduce the chances of relapse. Endocrine functions in the system may be affected by the formation of cancer. Using hormonal therapy specific for treatment can control or slow the growth. It is equally effective in reducing the symptoms of the patients.

Some of the tumors are not eligible for surgery or radiotherapy because of their specific location. Performing the processes can be fatal for the patient therefore, hormones are introduced for the treatment to reduce the effects of cancer. These are mainly introduced through vaccination so that the effect can take place on the target cells.


Some of the cancerous growth inside the system need surgical removal. The presence of specific tumors near the visceral organs can be detrimental to the organ. If the tumor keeps growing, it may turn metastatic fast. Along with the anti-cancer drugs, radiation therapy needs to be introduced, so that after surgery the chances of relapse can be decreased from any neighboring cell. Common cancer that requires surgery is leukemia or blood cancer, where surgical introduction or healthy bone marrow tissue transplantation is the form of treatment.

Introduction of these treatments

It is not just the drug for cancer treatment that goes for a clinical trial. Cancer care depends on the chances of complete eradication of cancerous cells. The best treatment methods are those which does not induce relapse under any circumstances. Various treatment options are subjected to clinical trials as a combined process of cancer therapy. Those showing better results as a part of the trial get introduced as genuine treatment plans.

Palliative treatment becomes essential in the terminal stages of cancer. If the patient is unable to deal with the side effects of treatment and can succumb to the cancer treatment, then physicians look for other treatments like the introduction of stem cell transplant.

Possible complications

There are always chances of complications while and after cancer treatment. Some of the medicines have a low level of toxicity to the body system as well. Normal body functions are not possible by the patients who are going through cancer therapy. A constant level of fatigue is normal at this state but patients must be in constant touch with their physicians. it is just to keep them updated about the vitals and people need palliative care to move through the time of treatment.

Context and applications

Cancer Biology is a common field of research where researchers are constantly making improvements. This topic will be ideal for the students for all fields of Biology but mainly those who are studying:

  • Medicine
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Immunology
  • Nursing

Common Mistakes

Drugs introduced for cancer treatment are not basic medicines fit for daily use. They are introduced intravenously in the body so that the medication can reach the target tissues with cancerous cells. It was a common idea before that cancer is not familial but occurs randomly. Recent research suggested that mutated genes can be transferred from one generation to the next. 

Cancer is one of the versatile fields of medical research. This makes it related to multiple concepts related to human life.   

  • Benign and Malignant tumor
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle regulation
  • Mutation and mutagens

Practice Problems

  1. What is the relapsing of cancer?
    1. Getting back to normal state
    2. Succumbing to cancer
    3. Cancer returning after eradicating
    4. None of the above

Correct Answer: c. Cancer returning after eradicating

2. What is the main process in which detection of cancer takes place?

    1. Radio-imaging
    2. Microscopy
    3. Spectroscopy
    4. CRC-Imaging

Correct Answer: a. Radio-imaging

3. Which of the following is a physical mutagen?

    1. Poisonous plants
    2. X-rays
    3. Alpha particles
    4. Both b and c

Correct Answer: d. Both b and c

4. Chemotherapy is introduced in an: 

    1. Intramuscular manner
    2. Intracutaneous manner
    3. Intravenous manner
    4. Intradermal manner

Correct Answer: c. Intravenous manner

5. What is the function of an immune enhancer?

    1. Empowering monoclonal antibody
    2. Targeting the cancer cells
    3. Destroying the dead cells
    4. To cease the cellular growth

Correct Answer: b. Targeting the cancer cells

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