Tag Archives: brain tumors
Cancer. The very word strikes fear into the hearts of even the strongest men. It has been with us from the beginning of time, and will likely remain with us until the very end of it, too. Through the years, cancer treatments have evolved from witch doctor potions and dangerous surgeries to high-tech drugs and techniques. Medical researchers keep plugging away at new and different ideas, coming up with better and more effective treatments. Some cancers have almost been eliminated through their efforts, and yet the work goes on. Perhaps it is the fear that drives them. Let’s look at a few innovative, fairly new weapons in the fight against cancers of all kinds.
- The gamma knife - This tool of radiosurgery has been around for about 25 years now. Essentially, it is a system to deliver pinpoint radiation to brain tumors. Not only does it help with what were once inoperable tumors deep within the brain, but since it is completely non-invasive, it has grown in popularity in treating other conditions. It is a common form of acoustic neuroma surgery, replacing scalpels and sutures and possible complications involving the auditory nerves by destroying the neuroma’s blood supply. No dangerous open surgery, no scars, no long recovery period.
- The nano-drug – Researchers are currently busy developing cancer treatments using nanotechnology. Treatments have been created that use the technology to hone in on cancer cells, ignoring healthy cells and tissues. Once they arrive, they release anti-tumor drugs directly into the tumor’s cells, killing them. It is then degraded into harmless carbon dioxide and water. The treatment attacks only the cancer cells, from the inside. And with no harmful side effects or even immune system involvement. No allergic reactions, no suppressed immune system, no danger to healthy tissues.
- Vaccines – You can get a shot to prevent the mumps. You can get a shot to prevent the measles. And now you can get a shot to prevent certain types of cancers. Researchers have developed vaccines designed to fight cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer. Young women can receive the vaccine in their teens and not have to worry about the virus that causes 70% of cervical cancer cases. The hepatitis B vaccine can actually prevent the liver cancer this nasty virus can cause. And thanks to new developments, men with metastatic prostate cancer can be treated with a vaccine. The vaccines stimulate the body’s own natural defenses to fight off the cancerous cells. Cancer warfare from the inside–kind of like infiltrating the enemy’s camp!
- Molecular Off Switch – All cancers are ultimately caused by uncontrolled cell growth. The cells mutate, become a foreign entity to the body that created them, and then they keep dividing. They then can move through the body and infect other parts of it, even as they are treated and killed at the original site. All of this growth–division, multiplication, migration–is controlled by a very particular protein within the cell. Up until recently, scientists only knew how to turn this protein on, causing the cells to grow. Now, however, they think they know how to turn it off. So, while medicine doesn’t have a way to prevent cancer from starting, it is hard at work developing a way to stop it by turning it off.