I don’t remember how many times we have been asked this question that is cancer curable or only remissible. These two medical terminologies, “cure” and “remission,” are often used interchangeably by laymen. However, doctors generally never say “cure” because no medical research to date has found the cure for cancer.
The difference between cancer cure and cancer remission is a topic that has caught my interest. A cure means that cancer has been successfully treated, that no more therapy is required, and that cancer will not return. It’s uncommon for a doctor to be specific on cancer will ever return. When treatment appears to be effective, doctors are more likely to state the cancer is “in remission” rather than “cured.”
A phase of remission occurs when the cancer patient responds to treatment and is under control. In complete remission, all indications and symptoms of cancer disappear, and no tests can detect cancer cells. If the cancer returns (recurrence), more treatment may be necessary to achieve another remission.
What does it mean to be cancer-free?
Even in the remission period, you may need treatment since cancer cells can still be found in your body. This lowers the chances of leftover cancer cells re-growing. This indicates that the tumor size has shrunk for solid tumors. To be called remission, the fall must last at least one month.
There are three types of remission
- Partial: In this type of remission, at least a 50% reduction in measurable tumor size or cancer cells was observed.
- Complete: In this type of remission, all cancerous evidence has vanished.
- Spontaneous: In this type of remission, there is an unexpected improvement from the disease.
Remission isn’t the same as a cure, and it doesn’t guarantee you’re cancer-free life. Even if you are in complete remission, some cancer cells may remain in your body and begin to develop again.
Cancer cells return after treatment usually happens within five years of the initial diagnosis and treatment. Based on scientific statistics from large groups of patients, doctors can offer you their best view of whether your cancer will return.
The term “remission” is also essential. It means your cancer symptoms have disappeared. Remission differs from a cure in that it does not always persist for the rest of your life.
What methods are used to determine remission?
Depending on the type of cancer, blood tests, imaging tests, or a biopsy are used to assess whether the patient is in remission. Your cancer will be thoroughly watched during therapy so that your doctor can spot any changes in cancer symptoms. For your cancer to be declared in remission, it must be stable for at least a month.
Can we ever honestly discuss a cancer cure?
The answer is, in general, no. It’s also a word that most doctors avoid using. There is no cure. Although, few treatments may stop it from spreading to the other parts of the body.
Are there any treatments?
There is still no cure when we talk about cancer cure, but therapies may help you live a longer and healthier life. Few individuals are treated for cancer but still die from it, even though treatment may extend their lives by years or decades. Treatment plans are formed based on the type of cancer, its stage of progression, overall health, and your personal preferences.
Some of the five common treatments are mentioned below:
- Hormone therapy
Cancer research and developments
In some form or another, cancer research has been going on for nearly 200 years. Even though there is no cure, there has been significant progress. Once you have cancer, it may not seem fast enough. However, there are more therapy alternatives now than before five years ago. Researchers are trying to figure out what causes some types of cancer to spread to develop medicines to stop it. This includes medications that target the way cancer cells work and treatments that target cancer cells using your body’s immune system.
Doctors now possess a much better understanding of how to detect many cancers in their early stages. If one treatment doesn’t work, they have more to try. Scientists are learning more about how different one type of cancer is from another as researches are going on. Researchers have determined that all breast cancers are not the same. There are four primary categories, each with its own set of therapeutic options.
Treatments that are used in addition to regular cancer therapy are known as complementary or integrative therapies. It invariably is a great idea to consult your doctor first, especially if you’re thinking about taking supplements. Consult your doctor to determine what activities are safe for you to try.
Chances of treatment in remission
Even in the remission period, you may need treatment since cancer cells can still be found in your body. This lowers the chances of leftover cancer cells re-growing. Whether you get treatment while in remission, your cancer will be continuously monitored to ensure that it does not resurface. During remission, continuous chemotherapy is the most standard treatment option. Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that is provided regularly to prevent cancer from spreading. You should not feel worse while on maintenance therapy. Talk to your doctor if the side effects start to bother you. You may be taken off of your maintenance therapy. Maintenance therapy can be stopped at the moment when your doctor notices that it’s becoming less effective and may decide to cease it to prevent your cancer from becoming resistant to chemotherapy.
The prognosis for those in remission
Cancer remission might last a lifetime for some people. Others may experience a recurrence of their cancer, which is known as a recurrence. Cancer recurrence types are given below:
- Local – cancer returns to the exact location where it was first detected.
- Regional – Near the original cancer site, cancer returns in lymph nodes and tissues.
- Distant – cancer spreads to other parts of the body (metastasized).
The type of cancer you had, the stage at which the tumor was discovered, and your health all play a significant role in the chance of recurrence. It’s impossible to predict whether or not your cancer may return. Malignancies identified later in life or cancers involving lymph nodes, on the other hand, are more likely to return.
Tips to stay healthy while in remission.
The best method to avoid recurrence is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As a result, keeping a good weight, consuming a nutritious diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and entire grains, keeping a physically active life, maintaining a positive thought (focus on good mental health), and joining a cancer support group.
Cancer remission does not guarantee cancer-free life, although it is a big step forward. In some cases, your cancer may not come back. It may happen again in the future. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and keep an eye on any suspected cancer symptoms, even if you are cancer-free.