Fundamentals Of Surgical Oncology

What is Surgical Oncology?

Surgical oncology is the specialized area of oncology that is used to manage and treat cancer.   Surgical OncologyThis branch of surgery refers to all the different types of surgeons that are engaged in treatment and management of all the different types of cancers and tumors. One of the main tasks of an oncology surgeon is to determine the relationship between removal of tumor and the risk associated by the initial tumor. The surgeon is more experienced in patient management through more conservative procedures than the conventional resection and excision methods of treatment. Continue Reading

Risk Factors and Prevention of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a dreadful disease that arises due to formation of unusual and harmful cells in bladder and surrounding area. These cells multiply uncontrollably and begin to deteriorate immune system of an individual. Persistent fatigue, sudden loss of weight, burning sensation during urination, and blood clots in urine are the major warning signs of bladder cancer. Patients who are experiencing such symptoms must visit an experienced oncologist for an apt diagnosis. Any kind of negligence may lead to life-threatening problems in future.

 Risk Factors and Prevention of Bladder Cancer

Major Risk Factors Associated with Bladder Cancer

Root cause of bladder cancer is still a topic of research. However, there are certain risk factors that may double up the chances of occurrence of this disease in an individual’s body. The following points describe some major risk factors associated with cancer of bladder.

Smoking – It has been scientifically proven that chain smokers are considerably at a greater risk of developing bladder cancer.

Dehydration – Dehydration is often taken lightly by most people. But it is a fact that who do not drink sufficient amount of water are more prone to bladder cancer as compared to others.

Chemical Exposure – Exposure to chemicals like arsenic may prove dangerous over a period of time. It can significantly harm an individual’s body and result in cancer of bladder.

Chronic Urinary Infections – Proper treatment of urinary infections is extremely crucial because people who are suffering from chronic urinary infections are the main targets of bladder cancer.

Family History of Disease – Family history of bladder cancer raises the possibility of an individual to develop it in future.

How to Prevent Bladder Cancer?

Fortunately, bladder cancer is a highly preventable disease. People can easily prevent this disease by making the following changes in their lifestyle.

Fresh Fruits and Veggies – People should avoid processed food and increase the intake of fruits and vegetables in their daily course. It will improve their health and reduce the chances of any type of cancer.

Quit Smoking – Quitting smoking can work wonders for an individual. It can boost good health as well as reduce the possibility of bladder cancer. Quitting this habit all of a sudden may not be possible for everyone. However, one may take medical help to quit this destructive habit.

Active Lifestyle – A sedentary lifestyle may give rise to various health complications including bladder cancer. Therefore, everyone should maintain an active lifestyle in order to boost immunity and minimize the occurrence of bladder cancer.

Regular Health Evaluation – Regular health evaluation is necessary to keep a tab on overall health. It may help in early diagnosis of bladder cancer and increase the chances of successful cancer treatment.

Why Should You Undergo Cancer Treatment in India?

India has a large network of multispeciality health care centers that are fully-furnished with high-end instruments and state-of-the-art technology. Medical professionals practicing in these hospitals are renowned for handling complex cases of cancer and providing positive results. In addition to this, cancer treatment cost in India is also very affordable as compared to developed nations such as Canada and United Kingdom. Medical tourism in India is indeed the best choice for international patients seeking cost-effective as well as high-quality cancer treatments in a hassle-free manner.

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Monitoring Cancer Tumor May Sometimes Be Better Than Aggressive Treatment

Most often the type of cancer, age and compliance of the patient matter and tumors do not always require immediate treatment. However, not all cancer tumors are the same. Cancer data which is available reveals that small-sized breast cancer tumors which are slow-growing generally have an excellent outlook and may in fact never cause any serious complications or even require treatment within the life span of a patient.

Monitoring Cancer Tumor May Sometimes Be Better Than Aggressive Treatment

Fast-Growing Cancer Tumors May be Fatal

On the other side there are fast-growing cancer tumors which can be equally fatal and even become a problem before they are diagnosed. However, in many cases it is found that doctors over-diagnosed or sometimes over-treated older patients with slow-growing cancer tumors which were unlikely to be life-threatening. It is therefore important that patients as well as physicians be educated on indolent and slow-growing nature of some types of breast cancers. This will allow over-diagnosing and avoiding major harms resulting from overtreatments and the fear and anxiety which diagnosing of cancer will cause to the patient.

Monitoring Cancer is Sometimes the Best Treatment Option

While breast cancer can be a controversial subject, low-grade lymphoma is typically dealt by oncologists with the observation option unless it is harming the patient or shortening life-span because of cancer. There are many other scenarios where doctors suggest that monitoring cancer is an ideal option instead of chemotherapy and other extreme options. However, in many cases simply watching and waiting for a patient can be a difficult option to accept. Most patients refuse to accept watchful waiting, particularly when they are young and healthy individuals. Mortality rate resulting from prostate cancer is especially low in spite of the type of treatment, but surgical intervention and radiotherapy are associated with fewer cases of disease progression and metastases.

Cancer Patient’s Preference

While some cancer patients pursue more treatment than what is required, there are others who would prefer effective monitoring. The truth is there is more which is riding on the cancer patient than the doctor when considering active surveillance. Monitoring option for cancer is usually not accepted because of the human element. In several cases where monitoring would be ideal, it is the stress on the patient and the family which makes them settle for treatments. However, whenever monitoring is chosen as an option for cancer, surveillance schedule should be strict for up to 10 years of time. Moreover, age of the patient is an important factor. Like a person of 70 years with a slow-growing cancer tumor may eventually die of some other cause, while a younger person with the same problem may require invasive cancer treatments in order to stop progression of the disease.

Cancer Treatment in India is a Good Option

Medical tourism in India is an excellent option for international patients who are concerned about the rising cost of healthcare in their homeland. India features an extensive network of globally recognized doctors and internationally accredited hospital facilities which are equipped with the most modern technologies in order to provide successful outcomes which are at par with the best in the world. Moreover, cancer treatment in India when compared to cancer treatment costs in the developed Western countries is much less without compromising on the quality of treatment. In fact, cancer treatment cost in India is just a fraction of what a cancer patient may end up paying while undergoing treatment in other parts of the world.

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Most Common Types of Cancers in Young Adults

Most common cancers in young adults generally refer to those patients who are aged between 20 to 39 years. Although cells in nearly all parts of the body can turn cancerous and spread to other parts of the body as well, still cancer as a disease is not so prevalent among young adults. However, a wide variety of cancers occur within this age range and treating them can often be challenging for a number of reasons.  While most cancers occur in older people due to lifestyle-related and environmental risk factors, it is not so with younger people. Most common types of cancers which occur in young adults are generally a mix of types of cancers which usually develop in children, teenagers and older adults.

Cancers in Young Adults

Most Common Types of Cancers in Young Adults

 Although types of cancers found in young adults are not unique in nature, but the most common ones within this range are generally different from those found in children and older adults. The three most common types of cancers from a fairly larger list are listed below.

Breast Cancer Although breast cancer is quite rare before 30 years of age, it tends to get more common as women age. Outlook generally tends to be much better among young adults than it is for older women. Moreover, young women most often have lumps in breasts which are noncancerous. However, there is always a chance that it could be breast cancer, so it is better to get them checked anyway. Irrespective of the age of woman, it is sensible to get breasts checked for breast cancer including swelling, pain, thickening of breast skin, changes in nipple and leaking of fluid other than milk from nipples.

Thyroid Cancer Risk of developing thyroid cancer also increases as people age, but this condition is most often found in young adults than most other types of adult cancers. Moreover, thyroid cancer is more common among women than it is in men. Lump in front of the neck is the most common symptom of thyroid cancer. However, not all these lumps are cancerous, but it is safer to get them checked. Other thyroid cancer symptoms include swelling or pain in neck, trouble in swallowing or breathing and changes in the voice of a patient. For thyroid cancer patients younger than 45 years of age, chances of cure are usually very good.

Colorectal Cancer Colorectal cancers in young adults are most likely to be linked to an inherited genetic condition which puts some people at higher risk. Most often screening tests detect colorectal cancer, though they are not recommended for young adults unless they are in high risk of developing one. Common symptoms of colorectal cancer include loss of appetite, belly pain, changes in bowel habits, dark-colored stools, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss. 

Other Common Cancers in Young Adults

 Other common types of cancers found in young adults include testicular cancer, cervix and ovarian germ cell cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, brain and spinal cord tumors, skin cancer, bone tumors soft tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Affordable Cancer Treatments in India

Cancer treatments in India are at par with the best global standards. Moreover, some hospitals also provide special teenage and young adult cancer units that provide privileged care and treatment options which are typical to this age group. Apart from this, cancer treatment cost in India is comparatively much reasonable than it is in other developed countries. In fact, international patients seeking good quality of affordable medical procedures in foreign countries can save substantial amounts of their hard earned money by undergoing cancer treatments in India.

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Types and Treatment Options for Solid Tumors

There are two major types of solid tumors which are known as sarcomas and carcinomas. However, surgery is most often the preferred treatment option for most types of solid tumors including sarcoma or carcinoma.

Types and Treatment Options for Solid Tumors

Sarcomas – These are solid tumors which are usually found on tendons, muscles, lymph vessels, ligaments, fatty tissue, bones, and in blood vessels. Of these, osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma are bone cancer sarcomas, while rhabdomyosarcoma is a soft tissue sarcoma which is typically found in muscles.

Carcinoma – These are solid tumors which usually form in epithelial cells. Epithelial cells are typically found in linings of organs, glands and in skin. Adrenocortical carcinoma is a common solid tumor which usually develops in either one or both adrenal glands which are located one above each kidney. 

More about Solid Tumors

While some solid tumors are found to go away on their own, others are required to be removed through an operation. Following this, solid tumor patients are also required to undergo checkups in order to ensure that tumors do not return. Moreover, certain solid tumors require more than a single operation as treatment and which include long-term use of medications, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or multiple surgeries for best chance of cure and proper function. Therefore, proper coordination of treatments is important for successfully dealing with solid tumors. Wide-spectrum of multidisciplinary efforts which make-up for a solid tumor cancer treatment plan include, proper nutrition, supportive care, physical and occupational therapies, speech therapy, complimentary therapies along with regular treatments. 

Treatment Options for Solid Tumors

 Correct diagnosis is paramount to cure. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are parts of a solid tumor treatment plan and which is either applied individually or in combinations which are most suitable to the patient. Surgical intervention may span across specialties like ear, nose, throat, orthopedic surgery, orthopedic oncology, urology, dental surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery or plastic surgery, and not limited to just general surgery. Fully trained and certified staff is required for treating solid tumors with chemotherapy in children and young adults with cancer. Radiation therapy is also utilized for some patients as part of the cancer treatment plan. Factors which are usually considered while determining solid tumor cancer treatment include the type of tumor, age and overall health of the patient. 

World-Class Cancer Treatments in India

Cancer treatment in India is of top quality and comparable to the best available across the continents. Oncologists and cancer hospitals here are globally recognized to be at par with the best in the world. All cancer treatment options are available to patients while the doctors are well trained and most experienced. Apart from the quality of procedures cancer treatment cost in India is in fact just a fraction of what it takes to undergo similar treatment procedures in other parts of the world. International patients would therefore be able to save substantial amounts of money by availing cancer treatments in India alongside having the best of cancer care.

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Availability of Screening for Cancers in Women

Cancer falls under the category of most life-threatening diseases. It can weaken entire immune system and lead to disabling condition. It is purely a myth that this disease mostly affects men. Reality is that cancer can affect anyone irrespective of their gender. This is the reason why women must invest time in their health. Along with taking care of everyone, they should not forget to take care of themselves. Women experiencing abnormal symptoms must consult an experienced doctor to figure out the reason behind it. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prove extremely beneficial as risk of death increases significantly when it reaches an advanced stage.

Screening for Cancers in Women
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Fundamentals Of Surgical Oncology

What is Surgical Oncology?

Surgical oncology is the specialized area of oncology that is used to manage and treat cancer.

 Woman in doctor's office frowning

This branch of surgery refers to all the different types of surgeons that are engaged in treatment and management of all the different types of cancers and tumors. One of the main tasks of an oncology surgeon is to determine the relationship between removal of tumor and the risk associated by the initial tumor. The surgeon is more experienced in patient management through more conservative procedures than the conventional resection and excision methods of treatment.

What conditions are treated with Surgical Oncology?

Surgical treatment of cancer is usually the last resort in cancer management when all other alternatives and non-surgical cancer treatments have been unsuccessful. Surgical treatment in oncology is used to treat the following types of cancers:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon and Rectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Renal (Kidney) cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Brain tumors
  • Throat cancer

What are the different Surgical Oncology techniques?

The treatment of most cancer is attempted with many different non-surgical techniques such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, etc and if these treatments are unsuccessful in relieving the symptoms or treatment of the cancer then the doctor will suggest a surgical treatment for it.

There are different surgical techniques in oncology and the type of technique suitable for you will depend upon various factors such as your overall health, age, stage of cancer, location of cancer, etc. The doctor will take such factors into consideration and suggest the most efficient and best surgical technique for the treatment of your cancer.

These are the different surgical techniques:

Diagnostic

Many cancers require a biopsy to make a definite diagnosis. A surgical biopsy of a suspected cancer/tumor requires the surgeon to make an incision in the skin and reach the cancerous area to remove a small piece of the suspected cancer tissue. The two types of surgical biopsies are ‘incision biopsy’ which involves removal of a small part of the suspected area for extensive pathological examination and the ‘excision biopsy’ that requires the removal of the entire suspected area such as an abnormal lump or a mole.

A biopsy is performed to make the tissue available for a detailed and extensive pathological examination in which the pathologist examines the tissue cells and determines the presence of cancer as well as the type of cancerous cells in it.

Staging

This surgery is required to determine the size and the extent of the area in which the tumor has metastasized (spread). This usually involves removing the lymph nodes near the cancerous area. The doctor will get a better idea regarding the type of treatment ideal to cure that particular cancer with the help of physical examination, biopsy, staging surgery and results from the imaging tests and pathology laboratory.

Curative

This is also known as ‘primary surgery’ or simply ‘tumor removal’ and is the most common type of oncology surgery. This surgery requires removal of the tumor as well as part of the surrounding tissues, called ‘margin’. This procedure may be performed as a singular procedure for cancer treatment or it could be done in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, before or after the curative surgery.

The curative surgery may use either the conventional method which requires the surgeon to make large cuts and incisions into the skin and shifting of underlying muscles, bones and other tissues to reach the cancerous area, or it could be done with a minimally invasive method that requires smaller and lesser number of incisions that are advantageous due to lesser surgery time and faster recovery.

De-bulking

This method is used to remove as much portion of the tumor that can be removed without causing damage to the body in situations where complete removal of the tumor is not possible. Usually, the doctor uses radiation or chemotherapy to shrink the remaining tumor.

Palliative

Palliative surgery aims to relieve the symptoms and side effects caused by a tumor. This helps improve the patient’s quality of life. These are the different palliative surgeries and their aims:

  • In case a tumor is putting undue pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord the surgery can help in relieving the pain and restore the restricted physical functions.
  • Palliative surgery is also used to stop bleeding in cases where the cancer occurs in areas with higher number of blood vessels such as in the uterus and other organs where there is a higher chance of the tumor experiencing friction. Bleeding may also be caused due to a side-effect of chemotherapy. Suture ligation is the most common surgical technique to stop bleeding which involves tying the bleeding blood vessels with surgical thread.
  • This also involves inserting different types of tubes for delivery of medication, feeding, etc.
  • Palliative surgery is also used in providing external support to cancer weakened bones by inserting metal rods and fixing them along the weakened bones to provide support and prevent fractures in these fragile bones.

Reconstruction

Plastic surgery or reconstructive surgery is helpful in restoring the body’s normal appearance after a primary cancer surgery especially. This is usually done right after the tumor is removed to save time. It may also be done at a later time in case the person’s health is not suitable for an additional surgery. Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy and other plastic surgeries for the neck and the face after oral cancer surgery are examples of more common forms of reconstructive cancer surgeries.

Preventive

Certain surgeries are also performed to prevent cancers such as removal of pre-cancerous polyps in the colon to prevent colon cancer. At times a mastectomy is also preformed as a preventive procedure in women who have a strong family history of breast cancer or show gene mutations in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Some women with ovarian cancer genes may also undergo an oophorectomy to remove the ovaries and prevent ovarian cancer from occurring in the future.

Laparoscopic

This is a type of minimally invasive surgical method. This is performed using a thin and flexible surgical tube (laparoscope) that has a video camera, light and other tiny surgical instruments attached to its end. This procedure requires very minute (keyhole) incisions and lesser number of incisions as compared to a conventional surgery.

Laser

This surgical method uses a focused beam of high-frequency light to destroy the cancerous cells without needing any incisions.

Endoscopic

This is a non-invasive type of surgical procedure in which a thin and flexible tube (endoscope) with a camera and light attachment at its end is inserted into the patient’s body through either, the mouth, rectum or vagina to examine the internal organs. Endoscopic surgery is also useful in obtaining samples of cancerous tissues (biopsy) for detailed pathological examination.

Cryosurgery

This type of surgery is performed using highly cooled liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy cancerous cells.

Mohs micrographic method

This type of surgery is also known as microscopically controlled surgery which requires the surgeon to chip off very thin layers of the skin affected with skin cancer until all the layers appear to be normal when viewed microscopically.

What does a Surgical Oncologist do?

A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in the surgical treatment methods of cancer. This is one of the three basic clinical disciplines in the field of oncology.

A surgical oncologist is trained in the removal of tumor and cancerous cells through a surgical procedure. The surgical oncologist also performs biopsies which involves removal of a small piece of suspected cancerous tissue or a suspected tumor so that it can be sent for a detailed and extensive examination to the pathological laboratory.

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