Is Surgery an Answer to Cancer?
Is Surgery an Answer to Cancer? Cancer is one of the deadliest, most challenging, and hardest-to-fight diseases people face these days, and still, science can’t completely understand why it occurs and how to successfully treat it. Not only does it differ from body part to body part, but it also depends on a variety of different factors related to the person who is diagnosed with cancer.
Consequentially, there are many different treatments and therapy options to choose from and try out, with surgery being one of the most invasive. But is the most effective solution one that helps “cut” tumors and can there be additional consequences after this invasive treatment? Here’s what we know.
What is Cancer?
Very simply put, cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrollable growth of certain cells in the human body. It can start anywhere and spread literally everywhere. Biologically, all of the cells in our bodies grow and multiply, die when they become defective, and get replaced by new, healthy cells. Cancer cells don’t die, they keep on growing, multiplying, and spreading, which typically causes tumors, clusters of cancer cells.
Not all tumors are cancerous, and these benign tumors typically don’t pose a huge risk to one’s health. Sometimes, depending on the location of the tumor, they can press the wrong nerve or block a certain vessel, which is when surgical removal is necessary. Still, it doesn’t mean the tumor itself has become cancerous.
On the other hand, cancerous tumors invade distant tissue and spread all across the body, forming new tumors and infecting the blood. When a cancerous tumor gets surgically removed, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t come back.
What Causes Cancer?
Science still hasn’t come up with an answer that no one will object to, but many factors point to genetics, especially as we now know that genetic changes affect three main types of genes—proto-oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and DNA repair genes. Why do these genetic changes occur? That’s where lifestyle, diet, environmental toxins, stress, and other day-to-day factors come into play.
From ultra-processed inflammatory foods and lack of movement to high levels of stress and chemicals found in thousands of products we use on a daily basis, there are plenty of possible pieces of the puzzle as to why our DNA suddenly starts acting strange. Even though each case is isolated for itself, there have been some findings that link certain factors to specific cancers, like smoking and lung cancer, and unprotected sun exposure and skin cancer.
How is Cancer Treated?
There are many types of cancer and depending on each case and its severity, treatment plans may totally differ from one another. That being said, the most common cancer treatment plans include:
- Chemotherapy – use of specific drugs that help kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy doesn’t spare healthy cells either, which is why it typically weakens your immune system and causes your hair to fall off.
- Radiotherapy – use of energy beams to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, since this is radiation, it can cause DNA damage in healthy cells too.
- Hormone therapy – use of hormone-blocking compounds that stop the growth of cancers that depend on hormones to grow.
- Immunotherapy – use of your own immune system to help fight cancer. It helps boost your own body’s immune cells.
- Stem cell transplant – typically used for lymphomas, leukemia, and other cancers that affect the blood and lymph nodes, a bone marrow transplant helps replace your body with healthy cells.
- Surgery – the most invasive out of all treatments which involves cutting the cancerous tissue and tumors.
The right treatment or a combination of treatments will depend on a large variety of factors, from the type of cancer and its advancement to your current medical condition, age, lifestyle habits, and potential side effects. Sometimes surgery might seem like the best option, but it doesn’t guarantee cancer won’t return. On the other side, surgery might not always even be an option, and it’s up to you and your medical team to find the best solution for you.
Is Surgery the Answer?
Well, there are a few different ways to answer this question:
- Surgery might not always be possible. You might have metastasis all over the body and cutting each one out may not be possible. The tumor might also be near a delicate part of your body and surgery may put you at risk of another health complication or even death. Also, blood and lymph cancers are almost never operable as they’re spread throughout the body and impossible to “cut out.”
- Surgery might cause damage. Studies show how surgery, being the invasive treatment it is, may also cause inflammation around the area, potentially causing additional damage and causing the development of more cancer cells.
- Surgery might not take out all cancer cells. The potential (and very real) inability to kill microscopic cancer cells disease around the edges of the tumor may leave cancer cells in the patient after surgery.
- Surgery may cause organ removal. In some cases, an entire organ (or a part of it) may need to be removed to take out all cancer cells. Depending on the organ in question, that can pose additional complications and increase the risk of other negative health conditions as well as life quality.
- Surgery may cause additional complications. Surgery is a major treatment and in some cases, bleeding and blood clots that follow may cause additional health complications. Not everyone’s recovery is the same. Additionally, some of these complications can be long-term and cause everything from infertility and incontinence to having to use a colostomy bag for the rest of your life.
Cancer is a serious disease that depending on its severity and part of body affected, can have completely different outcomes. Surgery is still one of the main treatment options out there. It’s effective to a certain point, and in some cases it really might be the best option. However, it’s not for everyone, and with the possible side effects and consequences, it might be worth exploring all other options before getting under the knife.
I have found my cancer journey to be a positive and profound transformational experience. I’m inspired to share my healing journey here, and trust you’ll find hope, encouragement and purpose as you discover the healing power that lies within you.