How to Treat Cancer, From Taking Medication To Medical Procedures

Cancer is a deadly non-communicable disease in Indonesia, following the top-ranked position of heart disease. The main cause of cancer is DNA mutations in cells whose risk is increasing by various factors. So, what are the ways to treat cancer? Is it just taking anti-cancer drugs? Let’s find out more in the following review.

Choice of cancer drugs and medical procedures

Growing cells do not die and existing cells continue to divide uncontrollably is a hallmark of cancer cells. It is these abnormal cells that then form tumors in certain types of cancer. Without treatment, cancer cells can spread (metastatic) and damage the function of surrounding tissues.

Well, now there are various ways to treat cancer, including:

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy or chemo is a cancer treatment using drugs that can kill abnormal cells in the body. The drug is grouped by how it works, its chemical structure, and its interactions with other drugs.

Various types of drugs used in chemotherapy include:

  • Alkylating agent

The drug inhibits cells from splitting by damaging their DNA. Typically, it is used to treat lung cancer, breast cancer, and leukaemia. Alkylating agents for example are busulfan, temozolomide, mechlorethamine, altretamine, lomustine, and chlorambucil.

  • Antimetabolite

The drug interferes with the DNA and RNA in the cells so as not to divide themselves. It is commonly used to treat bowel cancer, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. For example, anti-cancer drugs of this type are azacitidine, fludarabine, pralatrexate, and cladribine.

  • Anti-tumor antibiotic

This drug is not like antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, but it changes the DNA in cancer cells so as not to grow and divide. Drugs of this group are for example antrasiklin (daunorubicin, epirubicin) or nontrasylin (bleomycin, dactinomicin).

  • Topoisomerase Inhibitors

The drug can interfere with the enzyme topoisomerase which causes chemical reactions in living cells. It is commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Drugs of this type for example are camptothecins (topotecan, irinotecan) and epipodophyllotoxins (teniposide).

  • Mitosis inhibitors

This remedy for malignant tumors works by stopping cells from splitting. It is usually used to treat lymphoma cancer and blood cancer. For example this type of drug is docetaxel, vinorelbine, and paclitaxel.

  • Corticosteroids

The drug is useful to prevent chemotherapy side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. The drugs used as examples are prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone.

Chemotherapy not only kills cancer cells but also the surrounding healthy cells. However, most normal cells can recover after therapy.

2. Radiotherapy

How to overcome cancer can also be with radiotherapy. This cancer therapy does not use drugs, but rather radiation rays. Therefore, this treatment is also known as radiation therapy.

Unlike radiation imaging tests, this treatment uses high doses of radiation. That way, the tumor can shrink and the cancer cells can die. These abnormal cells are then broken down and removed from inside your body.

However, this therapy cannot directly kill cancer cells with a single treatment. It takes several treatments to make the DNA of cancer cells damaged and die.

Alternative cancer treatment in addition to chemotherapy is divided into two types, namely external radiation and internal radiation (brachytherapy). Determining which type of cancer therapy is for you, will be tailored to the type of cancer, the size and location of the tumor, and the overall health of the body.

3. Biological therapy

The next way to treat cancer is biological therapy. This therapy involves the use of laboratory-produced substances that act against cancer cells. This cancer therapy is divided into various types, including:

The next way to treat cancer that is still drug-based is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that utilizes the human immune system to fight back.

The way it works is to stimulate your own immune system to stop the growth and proliferation of cancer cells in the body. Then, it provides special man-made substances that have immune-like functions and properties, such as immune proteins.

This treatment is an alternative when the cancer does not respond well to radiation or chemotherapy. Methods of immunotherapy as a way of treating cancer, include:

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors. Administration of special drugs so that immune cells respond more strongly to cancer. This is done by reducing the influence of immune checkpoints in the body, which is the part of the immune system that regulates the immune system so that it is not too strong.
    T cell transfer therapy. Treatment to improve the natural ability of T-cells to fight cancer. Initially, immune system cells around the tumor were taken, selected the most active against cancer, and engineered in the laboratory to work better. Furthermore, the cells are put back into the body by injection in the blood vessels.
  • Monoclonal antibodies. How to treat this cancer is also called therapeutic antibodies. The treatment uses proteins from the immune system created in a laboratory designed to mark and bind cancer cells so that the immune system is easier to recognize and destroy.
  • Cancer drug vaccine. This treatment is a vaccine that works to improve the immune system’s response to cancer cells. However, please be aware that vaccines in immunotherapy are different from vaccines commonly used to prevent disease.
  • Immune system modulators. This way of treating cancer works by improving the immune system’s more specific response whose job it is to fight cancer cells.

Just like other treatments, immunotherapy also causes side effects such as body fatigue, skin problems, fever, and body aches.

  • Target therapy

Targeted therapy is a targeted treatment to block the growth and spread of cancer cells with drugs. This treatment is different from chemotherapy because it can specifically destroy cancer cells through drugs. Unlike chemotherapy, this cancer treatment does not affect the healthy cells around the cancer.

Although it targets directly to kill abnormal cells and is considered to be able to treat cancer, this way still has drawbacks. Its weaknesses, such as cancer cells becoming immune to certain medications, are only effective at treating tumors with specific genetic mutations, and cause diarrhea, liver problems, and blood clotting.

4. Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancers that use hormones. Hormone therapy is also called endocrine therapy. Usually, this therapy is used as a way of treating breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The purpose of this treatment is to shrink the tumor before radiation therapy is performed. Then, it is also used as an additional cancer treatment so that the cancer does not relapse.

Cancer therapy treatments vary widely, including taking hormone-containing medications, hormone injections in the body, and organ removal operations, such as ovaries or testicles. Unfortunately, this treatment only works on cancers that require body hormones and cause side effects such as decreased sex drive, impotence, dry vagina, and fatigue.

5. Cancer surgery

A very common way of treating cancer in addition to taking medication is surgery. This medical procedure is performed to remove the cancer cells from spreading to the surrounding healthy tissues.

There are various types of surgery for cancer, including:

  • Cryosurgery

The operation uses cold energy in the form of liquid nitrogen to freeze cancer cells and destroy them. Usually done to overcome cervical cancer.

  • Electrical surgery

Surgery using high frequency electric current to kill cancer cells in the skin or mouth.

  • Laser operation

Surgery by relying on the help of high intensity light rays to deflate malignant tumors and eliminate cancer cells.

  • Operation Mohs

Surgery on sensitive areas of the skin, such as eyelid cancer. This operation is performed by removing cancer cells in the form of layers with a scalpel.

  • Laparoscopic Surgery

Surgical procedure by making a small incision and inserting a special tool equipped with a camera as well as a cutter to remove cancer cells.

6. Radionuclear therapy

Radionuclear therapy is a medical procedure involving heat from nuclear power that can be used to treat diseases, one of which is cancer.

Before you begin, you will undergo body imaging to map the location of cancer cells and their possible metastases. The team of doctors will then prepare the type and dosage of radioisotope drugs (containing radioactive compounds) that suit your physical condition.

Afterwards, the drug is then injected directly into the blood vessels. Within minutes, the drug will run to the targeted location of cancer cells. Furthermore, you should be isolated in a special room and hospitalized so as not to pollute the surrounding environment until the levels of radioactive material are below reasonable (harmless) limits.

During treatment, you may need to wear a mask or other protective equipment that will block radiation from affecting other parts of the body. Side effects of radionuclear therapy are nausea, vomiting, volatile mood swings, and discomfort in the body.

7. Ultrasound therapy

In early 2020, the American Institute of Physics revealed that the use of ultrasound (ultrasound) with the correct frequency can destroy cancer cells. Ultrasound therapy from Caltech relies on exposure to heat energy from low-intensity ultrasound to kill cancer cells without damaging surrounding healthy cells.

Then, it is also known as HIFU ultrasound or high intensity focused ultrasound. This therapy uses a way of working that is inversely proportional to ultrasound therapy from Caltech, namely using high frequencies.

HIFU cannot penetrate solid bone or air, so it can only be used in certain types of cancer, one of which is prostate cancer. However, until now researchers are still making deeper observations about the effectiveness as well as side effects. The use of this treatment in Indonesia is still not common.

8. Biopsy surgery

Biopsy is indeed known as one of the cancer diagnosis tests. However, biopsy is also a cancer treatment because the process of tumor removal can be done at once when the examination of the presence of cancer is done.

Surgical biopsy procedures are used to remove part of an abnormal cell area (incision biopsy) or remove an entire area of abnormal cells (excision biopsy). Usually the doctor will give you local or general anesthesia, and ask you to opname a few days.

In addition to cancer drugs, there are also palliative care

Palliative care is a treatment that aims not to cure diseases. However, it helps patients reduce symptoms or reduce other factors that aggravate symptoms so that their quality of life is better. Examples of palliative care that cancer patients usually follow are:

1. Art and music therapy

Further cancer treatment, not using drugs but with art activities. Although it does not directly cure cancer cells, it helps patients manage their emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety.

By managing emotions better, the patient’s mental health will also improve and will have an impact on the immune system so as to improve the patient’s quality of life for the better.

In this therapy, the patient will be filled with various activities, such as listening to music, singing, playing musical instruments, pouring his emotions into lyrics and songs, drawing, painting, carving, or making various crafts.

2. Animal therapy (pet therapy)

Animal therapy also does not use drugs to treat cancer. Apparently, decreased stress during pet therapy is caused by the production of endorphin hormones.

This hormone can relieve pain and make a person more comfortable and happy. If concluded, pet therapy can help cancer patients in several ways, namely:

  • Reduces pain, allowing patients to reduce their use of anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Reduce stress due to the disease and also the treatment done
  • Reduces fatigue symptoms that usually affect cancer patients

3. Cancer treatment for the elderly (elderly)

Unlike adults of a younger age, the elderly do not have much cancer treatment. This is because usually the elderly also have other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. As a result, the side effects that can arise from elderly treatment are much more serious.

Cancer treatment that can be undergone by the elderly is taking drugs through chemotherapy, following radiotherapy, and cancer cell removal surgery. However, the side effects will be more severe so both doctors and families should consider treatment options carefully.

Various side effects that appear during cancer treatment in the elderly include:

  • Impaired heart, kidney, and lung function.
  • Decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
  • Digestion is disrupted and nervous system damage occurs.
Cancer How To

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.

How is cancer diagnosed?

It is highly recommended to quickly diagnose the disease in order to get the best chance of cure, especially in the early stages. Doctors can use one or more approaches to diagnose this disease.

Some common tests doctors take to diagnose, including:

Physical examination

In addition to checking for changes in the skin, the doctor may check through the anus to see if there is a malignant tumor in the anus or prostate.

Laboratory tests

A blood test may be needed to check the patient’s overall health and detect the presence or absence of abnormalities.

Imaging tests

Various imaging tests such as PET scans, MRIs, X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans can be used to find out if abnormal cells have spread.


Biopsies are performed by removing a small portion of tissue to be examined with a microscope. Samples taken in biopsies are then analyzed by pathologists.
What are the ways to treat cancer?

Treatment basically depends on the type and stage of the disease, potential side effects, as well as the choice and general health of the patient. Here are some of the most common cancer treatments:


Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses chemicals with strong intensity to kill fast-growing cells in the body. Chemotherapy is most commonly used as a cancer drug, as the disease’s cells develop faster than normal cells in the body.

Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or combined. However, there will be perceived chemotherapy side effects.


Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is a way of treatment that relies on radiation by using high energy waves such as x-rays, gamma, protons, and electrons to kill cancer cells.

Although radiotherapy is most commonly used as a treatment, it is also sometimes used to treat patients who are not affected by the disease, such as tumors and thyroid gland disorders.

Biological therapy

Another cancer drug is to perform biological therapy. Biological therapy works by damaging abnormal cells directly or indirectly by triggering immune system reactions to attack those cells.

Biological therapy uses living organisms, either produced from within the human body or engineered in a laboratory that is deliberately created to be able to fight the cells that cause this disease. Biological therapies include immunotherapy, vaccines, and so on.

Target therapy

Targeted therapy is a therapy that uses drugs or other chemicals to identify and attack cancer cells specifically without killing normal cells. The therapy used can be a combination of several therapies. These therapies include:

  • Monoclonal antibodies.
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
  • Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors.

Consult your doctor for the right treatment and medication options for you. Each treatment of this disease has different side effects. Consider the risk of consuming the drug to stop abnormal cells with your condition.

What is the life expectancy of cancer patients?

A person who is sick with cancer has a great life expectancy because the disease is treatable. However, life expectancy depends on type, stage, and age.

Some types of cancers that have a high cure rate when detected early and treated appropriately are those that attack the breast, cervix, mouth, and colorectal (colon and anus).

From 1991 to 2017, the average death rate from the disease has decreased by 29 percent, with the largest decrease in 2016 to 2017, which is 2.2 percent.

If described in real terms, this means that around 2.9 million cancer patients are able to survive after being diagnosed. Here’s an overview:

  • Decreased mortality by 40% due to breast cancer (1989-2017).
  • Decreased death rate by 52% due to prostate cancer (1993-2017).
  • The death rate decreased by 56% in men (1980-2017) and 57 percent in women (1969-2017) from colorectal cancer.
  • The fastest decline in death rates occurred in melanoma skin cancer, which was 7% per year during 2013-2017.

With the most recent treatment approved in 2011, the life expectancy of patients for the disease over the next year was 42 percent, even increasing to 55 percent.

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can be made to overcome this disease?

To support treatment, you should adjust the lifestyle for cancer patients. Here are the lifestyle changes you need to implement:

Keep your ideal weight and follow the doctor’s treatment

The goal is to reduce obesity if you have it as well as prevent low weight. Try checking your ideal weight with the BMI (body mass index) calculator. Follow the rules of taking medications, therapy schedules, and abstinence that the doctor conveys to you.

Consumption of nutritious foods

Following treatment often causes side effects that affect the body’s nutrition. So, make sure you follow a diet that is in accordance with the advice of both doctors and nutritionists.

Manage stress and get used to positive thinking

Your emotional state greatly affects treatment. Therefore, do not allow stress to protract and get used to positive thinking in order to help the healing process.

How to prevent cancer?

While there is no definitive way to prevent cancer, both cured and healthy people can apply the following tips:

  • Quitting smoking because its chemicals trigger inflammation and can cause cells in the body, especially the lungs to become abnormal.
  • Wearing sunscreen to prevent exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of skin cells splitting uncontrollably.
  • Consume healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
  • Those at risk are required to undergo screening to determine whether or not the cells are abnormal.
  • Follow the HPV vaccine to prevent abnormal cells in the cervix in women.
  • Spending 30 minutes of exercise every day can prevent you from obesity, one of the risk factors for cells working abnormally.
  • Just like cigarettes, alcohol also contains substances that trigger inflammation. So, limit the intake especially if you already have certain health problems.
Cancer Treatment

What is Cancer Mean?

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease that begins to occur in one organ or tissue in the body due to abnormal cells growing out of control, attacking the surrounding area or spreading to other organs. The disease is recorded to cause the second most deaths in the world.

Basically, the body consists of trillions of cells scattered in each organ. These cells grow, develop, age and die, then are again replaced by new cells. Unfortunately, cells can work abnormally without control.

Abnormal cells experience errors in the system, so that damaged cells do not die by themselves. The cell continues to multiply and multiply itself as aggressively as possible until the number is no longer controllable.

This excessive number of cells can accumulate, causing tumors. That is why, cancer is also called malignant tumors. However, benign tumors are different from cancer.

This abnormal cell disease has many types. So there are various cancers based on the affected cells, including:

  • Carcinoma: Abnormal cells that attack abnormal epithelial cells, which are cells that line the surface of the skin, blood vessels, urinary tract, and organs.
  • Sarcoma: This disease comes from cells that form in the soft tissues of the body, such as muscles, tendons, fats, blood vessels, nerves, and tissues around the joints.
  • Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a cancer cell that occurs in T cells or B cells, i.e. white blood cells that are part of the immune system.
  • Leukemia: Abnormal cells that begin in the blood-forming tissues in the bone marrow.
  • Multiple myeloma: Multiple myeloma disease that originates from plasma cells, another type of immune cell.
  • Melanoma: Melanoma is what occurs in melanocyte cells, which are melanin-making cells (substances that give skin color).
  • Cancer of the brain and spine: Abnormal cells that form in the central nervous system.
  • Other types of cancer: For example, cancer cells that attack the egg, sperm cells, cells that release hormones into the blood (neuroendocrine), and cells in the digestive system.

Is cancer contagious?

Diseases caused by abnormal cells do not include infectious diseases. In fact, if it occurs in pregnant women, most do not affect the fetus. Rarely, cases of melanoma in the mother can spread cancer cells to the placenta and fetus.

How common is this disease?

The disease is very common and affects all ages. According to the Ministry of Health, Riskesdas data shows the prevalence of cancer in Indonesia increased from 1.4 per 1000 inhabitants in 2013 to 1.79 per 1000 inhabitants in 2018.

The most common types of attacking women are breast cancer and cervical cancer.

While in men, the most common types of attack are prostate cancer and lung cancer. Then, what often attacks the child is leukemia.

Based on WHO data, the most common types of causing death are lung cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, and breast cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of cancer?

People who experience this disease, do not necessarily show symptoms in the early stages. Generally, symptoms will appear when the disease has entered the advanced stage, namely stage 2, 3, and 4.

Each symptom is shown, determining the type of cancer it has. The following symptoms of cancer in the body are generally felt are:

  • Weight loss for no reason.
  • Fever that arises and relapses.
  • The body is exhausted and does not also improve.
  • Pain or pain in certain areas of the body.
  • The skin undergoes darker discoloration (hyperpigmentation), reddened skin, yellowed skin and whites, and overgrown skin.
  • Wounds appear in the mouth, penis, or vagina that do not heal.
  • Cancer lumps appear reddened, enlarged, and cause pain.
  • Coughing up blood, bleeding, bloody urine, and unusual vaginal bleeding.

The above symptoms may appear in children, adults, and the elderly. However, specific symptoms such as vaginal bleeding only occur in women.

When to see a doctor?

If you experience any of the above symptoms and do not improve within 1 or 2 weeks, see a doctor immediately. If your doctor suspects the symptoms to be cancerous, you will be referred to a specialist/cancer specialist or oncologist.

Clinically, oncologists are divided into several categories and all you need to know are:

  • Medical oncology that acts as the primary doctor during treatment.
  • Radiation oncology that handles abnormal cells with radiotherapy.
  • Surgical oncology in charge of treating abnormal cells with surgical procedures.
  • Gynecological oncology treats abnormal cells associated with the female reproductive system.
  • Pediatric oncology specializes in cancer treatment in newborns up to the age of 18.
  • Hematological oncology is responsible for treating blood-related cancers in the body.

What causes cancer?

The main cause of the disease is changes in dna in cells (mutations). The DNA in the cell contains a number of genes that each have a series of command systems to work, divide, die, and update.

However, the system is problematic and stops the normal functioning of the cells, thus becoming abnormal. The occurrence of this gene mutation error can be caused by inherited genes of parents and this is referred to as a common cause of cancer in children.

These problematic gene mutations can also be triggered by other factors. From exposure to cancer-triggering chemicals (carcinogens), radiation, cigarette smoke, viruses, obesity related to unhealthy food choices and infrequent exercise, to other changes that affect the body’s hormones or biological clock.

People with cancer can have more than one type and this is called secondary cancer or metastatic tumors. This condition indicates the spread to other organs, either simultaneously or even after the main type is cured.

The cancer is separated from the main type and spreads to other organs through blood vessels or lymph vessels (metastases).

For example, a person with breast cancer as the primary cancer. Gradually, these abnormal cells can spread to other organs, such as the lungs. Although, it is located in a different organ (lung), but the cancer cells are the same cells as those in the breast.

In Indonesia and other countries, the number of people with this disease continues to increase. According to some studies, this increase is influenced by certain habits that trigger cells to become abnormal, such as smoking, foods with a risk of carcinogens, and infections.

What increases the risk of developing cancer?

There are various factors that make a person more susceptible to abnormal changes in the cells of his body. The following risk factors of cancer are:

  • Age. The disease may take time for the body. Therefore, most are diagnosed at the age of 65 years or older. Age may also cause the body’s cells to experience system errors.
  • Bad habits. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure, obesity, and unsafe sex can be uncontrollable factors.
  • Family history. In most cases, abnormal cell problems are decreased, i.e. inherited from the family.
  • Health condition. Certain conditions such as inflammation of the intestines can cause cells in the intestine to become abnormally uncontrollable.
  • Environment. Exposure to chemicals, such as benzene at home or work can increase the risk of the disease.