As medical breakthroughs are discovered every day and preventions, cures and treatments become available for hundreds of diseases, cancer remains the number two cause of death for men and women in the United States behind heart disease.
This does not mean that cancer research is void of major breakthroughs or that it is not coming along as fast as advancements in other fields. It simply indicates that while new treatment technologies, such as radiation therapy are being developed and researched, they are not being accomplished at the same rate as diabetes, influenza, and cardiovascular disease treatment and preventions.
One of the problems with cancer treatment is that it is difficult to establish prevention techniques, to some degree. While doctors and scientists have learned that tobacco, asbestos, and other carcinogens can cause the disease; there are no strict guidelines that can guarantee a person will be free from cancer.
Some people have even argued that cancer is not a disease, but a “condition” and that, while avoiding tobacco and cancer causing agents can help, there is really nothing that can be done to reduce your chances of developing cancer beyond that.
Radiation Oncology — Advanced Treatments
Though the number of diagnosed cases of cancer may not be lowering quite as much as hoped, the number of deaths per diagnosed case has fallen dramatically in the past few years. As a matter of fact, cancer mortality rates have dropped dramatically since 1993, and a report by the New York Times states that in 2007, 12,000 fewer cancer patients died than did in 1993. Also stated in the article is that much of the progress comes from “early detection and treatment of some of the leading causes of cancer death — lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate tumors.”
One area in which the most improvement has come is radiation therapy. Radiation Therapy is — just as it seems it would be — the process of treating cancerous tumors via radiation. Radiation Oncology, the practice of physicians who use radiation therapy, involves dozens of different specialized treatment methods, which implement highly sophisticated technologies and equipment to deliver precise beams of radiation to the affected area without coming into contact with the surrounding tissues. A radiation oncologist can use a multitude of specific radiation therapy methods, only a couple of which are IMRT, or Intense Modulated Radiation Therapy, and TomoTherapy – each of which has its advantages and both of which are effective for issuing precise doses of radiation.
Only a radiation oncologist can help you decide exactly which form of radiation therapy might work best for a particular type of cancer, but overall advancements in radiation oncology gives new hope to cancer patients across the world. As science continues to develop new tools and treatment methods, society can inch closer to a world that is cancer-free.