Cancer: Diagnostic and Treatment Options

Female doctor examining an x-ray image

There are over one hundred types of cancer, but each one starts the same way—when abnormal cells in your body proliferate out of control. Even though all cancers start the same way, every different type of cancer behaves differently and responds to different treatments. Diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages with medical imaging tools can help to ensure effective, proper treatment for a specific type of cancer before it can spread to other tissues. Some of these diagnostic methods include: 

  • Nuclear medicine, such as the Miraluma scan
  • Digital mammography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI
  • Computed tomography, or CT scan

Fortunately, recent advances in technology and medical knowledge have provided oncologists and cancer patients with many new treatment options. Therapies that have been utilized for some time have also become more effective with the use of more advanced technology.     

Radiotherapy, when used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy, can be used in the curative treatment of cancer in almost all parts of the body. This therapy delivers high doses of radiation to cancer cells while limiting doses to healthy cells, thereby yielding higher cure rates and lower side effects compared with other treatment options.

Hyperthermia involves using heat to treat cancer. In the past, this therapy produced mixed results, but in recent years, new technology has allowed more precise delivery of heat. Using this technique to raise the temperature of part of the body can increase the effectiveness of other cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy. Very high temperatures can also be used to destroy a small area of abnormal cells in a process called thermal ablation .

Targeted therapy is one of the newest types of cancer therapy. As scientists have learned more about the minute genetic changes that lead to cancer, they have been able to develop medications to specifically target them. These drugs are usually able to attack cancer cells and avoid doing damage to healthy cells. 

The Cancer Center at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center provides state-of-the-art imaging and treatment options in all modalities. If you have any questions about cancer treatment or care, contact our staff at (818) 676-4000.

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