Approximately one-third of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at one point or another. Although there are a number of treatment options to help a person, those options will vary dramatically. Once you are diagnosed, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about what can be done.
It’s important to realize that the treatment options will vary based on the type of cancer that you have. Some cancer is incurable, such as mesothelioma. In other cancers, such as breast and skin cancer, there are ways to eliminate the cancer so that it is no longer a threat.
In addition to the type of cancer, it’s also important to look at the stage that it’s in. When cancer is caught early on, it can lead to more options for treatment. It may be possible to eliminate the cancer before it has had a chance to spread. If it isn’t caught until stage three or four, it may have reached other parts of the body, including lymph nodes.
There are ways for your doctor to test to find out what stage the cancer is in. A physical exam may be possible with skin and other types of cancer. X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging tests may be necessary to learn more about where the cancer is and how much is present. A biopsy will be taken in most instances, too. This will make it possible to get a confirmation that it is, in fact, cancer.
Once you know more about the type of cancer you have and where it’s located, your doctor will talk to you about the treatment options. The goal will be to cure the cancer, shrink the cancer, or even stop its progression. Some of the most common options include:
Some of the treatment options can lead to a number of side effects and health problems. Chemotherapy, for example, pumps your body full of chemicals to kill the cancer cells. While it kills the cancer, it can also leave you weak and nauseous.
When the cancer cannot be cured, some of the treatments are designed to extend your life for as long as possible – and to provide you with as much comfort in your final months as possible. This is when you have to be realistic about how much time you have and how comfortable you want to be. If a certain treatment option is only going to extend your life by a few short months but leaves you sick and weak, you may wish to forego it so that you can live your life on your terms.
There are no easy decisions to make when you have been diagnosed with cancer. Whether it’s curable or not, it can be hard on your body – and it’s important to have a support system that you can rely on. Following the diagnosis, talk to your doctor about the best options for you. Weigh the decisions with friends and family so you can determine what the next steps are going to be.