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Everything you need to know about adjuvant therapy

Adjuvant therapy is used after the primary treatment (surgery) of cancer to cut down its chance of recurrence. Even after removing the entire cancerous part, some cancerous cells can remain behind and lead to cancer recurrence. These bits cannot be detected with the help of the current measures.

Adjuvant therapy is used after the primary treatment (surgery) of cancer to cut down its chance of recurrence. Even after removing the entire cancerous part, some cancerous cells can remain behind and lead to cancer recurrence. These bits cannot be detected with the help of the current measures.

Oncologists prescribe adjuvant before neoadjuvant therapy, which is the main therapy. It also helps in reducing the chances of recurrence of cancer. It makes primary treatment more effective.

As these therapies can have significant side-effects, they are not fit for everyone. However, adjuvant colon cancer chemotherapy and adjuvant therapy for breast cancer are beneficial in most cases.

What are the treatment modalities that used as adjuvant therapy?

An array of cancer treatment modalities are used as adjuvant therapies. They are-

· Hormone therapy

This is used in cancers that are sensitive to hormones. The treatment can block the harmful effects of hormones or arrest hormone production in the body.

· Chemotherapy

In this therapy, certain drugs are given to kill the cancerous cells present in the body.

· Radiation therapy

In this therapy, energy beams of high-power, like protons or X-rays, are directed inside the body to kill the cancerous cells. This therapy can be given externally as well as internally.

· Target therapy

Target therapy is indicated to deal with the specific abnormalities caused due to cancer cells. For instance, this therapy blocks the action of HER2 or human epidermal growth factor receptor, which is a protein, in women having breast cancer.

· Immunotherapy

This therapy boosts the immune system to deal with the cancerous cells present in the body. This therapy works by stimulating or enhancing the body’s defense system to fight cancer cells.

Is this therapy effective?

Adjuvant therapy has certain side effects; hence, determining the risks associated with this therapy is essential before administering it. Before planning on taking an adjuvant therapy, the doctor and the patient should discuss the below-mentioned factors to determine the potency of the treatment-

· The kind of cancer

Adjuvant colon cancer chemotherapy and adjuvant therapy for breast cancer are very effective. However, adjuvant therapy may not be very beneficial for other kinds of cancers.

· The stage of cancer

In the early stages of cancer, the chances of recurrence are often less. In this care, adjuvant therapy cannot be very beneficial, while if cancer has reached the later stages, the therapy may be of some benefit.

· Hormone receptivity

If the cancer is hormonally sensitive, hormonal therapy works well in dealing with it.

· Lymph nodes involved

If more lymph nodes are involved, local therapies, like surgery, are very likely to leave behind some cancer cells.

· Cancer-specific changes

Many cancers cause changes in the cells that indicate a recurrence of cancer. In these cases, adjuvant therapy can be very beneficial. But, in cases where the tests hint towards fewer recurrence chances, adjuvant therapy may not work.

Adjuvant therapy cost in India

Cancer treatment in India costs for adjuvant therapy vary according to the kind of cancer and therapy.

For instance, the cost of treatment (surgery and radiotherapy) for breast cancer is between 5 to 6 lakhs, while with targeted therapy, chemotherapy (six cycles) can cost up to 20 lakhs.

Cancer is a dangerous disease, but these treatment modalities are potent enough to treat cancer and minimize recurrence chances.

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