Diagnosis of Cancer
On suspension of possibility of cancer the physician recommends for specific diagnostic procedures to a patient. For example, lumps in any parts of the body, enlarged liver, pancreas or prostate gland, etc are recommended for X-ray imaging, ultrasound scanning or MRI, depending on the situation. Blood tests are another set of diagnostic tools used in cancer diagnosis, in which blood is screened for the presence of cancer specific ‘marker compounds’ (eg. Antigens, antibodies, etc.). Endoscopy imaging is another technique followed to investigate deep seated tumours. Despite all these diagnostic tests, biopsy should be required before confirming any cancer. Biopsy involves removal of a small portion of the suspected tissue and its examination under microscope for verifying cellular structure, analysis of chromosomes (the seat of genes) for any abnormalities, examination of DNA for any alterations called ‘mutation’ and investigation on multiplication of the cells in culture media for assessing their multiplication pattern and frequency.
Treatment options for cancer
As cancer is a complicated and serious disorder, lot of treatment approaches and medicines have been evolved for its treatment. The treatment options vary, depending on the location, type of cancer and extent of growth of cancer. The most common treatment approaches opted are the following and are offered at different sequences depending on the type and state of cancer.
Surgery – Involves removal of the tumour by means of surgery. But this should be followed by other treatments since a single cancer cell left out in the body can revive into a tumour again if untreated. Many cases surgery may be difficult, depending on the location of the tumour.
Chemotherapy – This method involves treatment via medicines given as tablets of or injections. These medicines are meant for killing and stopping the multiplication of cancer cells. There are various different types of medicines used for chemotherapy. These medicines are used singly or in combinations depending on the type of cancer. The major limitations of these medicines is their effect on healthy cells leading to varied side-effects. Examples are hair loss, gastro-intestinal problems, constipation, severe weakness, etc.
Radiotherapy – This is a treatment method makes use of high-energy beams of radiation applied on the tumour. Such radiations are capable of killing the target cells or stop them from multiplying. Similar to the chemotherapy, radiations also cause chronic side effects.
More recently, some modern treatments such as stem cell therapy (eg. Bone marrow transplantation), immunotherapy (eg. Antibodies, interferons, etc) have been introduced to improve the patients’ well-being.
Many times a combination of more than one above-mentioned approaches is used in sequence for curing/regulating the proliferation of cancer. All these are the approaches followed by the allopathic system of medicine.
Cancer remains to be one of the major causes of death worldwide even today because only modest progress has been made in reducing the morbidity and mortality due to this disease despite the wide range of treatment methods developed and followed.
As of now, allopathy plays near monopoly in the cancer care world over, though isolated cases of patients opting for Ayurveda and other alternative medicines exist. As mentioned earlier, the major challenge of cancer treatment through allopathy is the side effects of the treatment procedures/medicines on the general well-being of the patient. The second issue is the failure of complete cure and the third and the very important challenge is the relapse of the disease. Therefore, an inclusive system of medicine with a holistic approach capable of addressing all these issues is the need of the hour in cancer care. There is tremendous potential of cowpathy as one of the possible alternative or complementary treatment approach in cancer therapy.
Most cancers are caused by combination of many factors
When we analyse the history of many cancer patients, we can easily make out that all of them may have one or more of the associated risk factors in them. For example, all smokers may not develop cancer and few non-smokers also be cancer patients. Similarly, a marginal number of patients may not have any of the cancer risk factors with them. Therefore, it is inferred that the real incidence of cancer among the people is due to the combination of more than one risk factors and /or failure of the counteracting defence mechanisms of the body.