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3 things you should know about cancer treatment

SPONSORED — As the saying goes, if you have your health, you have everything. So when you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost everything. And today, that diagnosis isn’t a long shot for most people.

According to the National Cancer Society, approximately 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime – that’s more than 1 in 3. When you or a loved one are hit with this kind of shocking news, you may ask yourself, “Will I survive?” What you should be asking is, “What treatments are best for my future?”

As cancer treatments become more advanced, survivorship grows. That said, what some cancer patients may not realize is that the cancer treatment they choose could affect their health for years to come — even if the cancer is gone for good. Here’s what you need to know about today’s most promising advancements.

Cancer is more treatable than ever

The great news for anyone facing a cancer diagnosis is that the disease has become more treatable than ever. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the five-year survival rate for all cancers was just 50 percent in adults and 62 percent for children in 1976. Today, the five-year survival rate for all cancers is 68 percent in adults and 81 percent in children.

The reason for this positive upswing is no mystery: Today’s cutting-edge cancer treatment options are not only effective, but they’re also safer than ever. For example, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, world-renowned oncologists and staff are treating patients with precision medicine, hormone therapy, genetic therapy, immunology and new approaches to chemotherapy and radiation.

Treatment affects the rest of your life

If you have cancer, it’s easy to focus on one thing: killing the cancer. That said, with survival rates rising, you also need to think about your life after cancer. Traditional cancer treatments — like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — carry lifelong side effects. These include infections, phantom limb pain, infertility, heart problems (including an increased risk for heart attack), congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, hypertension, lung problems, early menopause, bone, joint and soft tissue problems, brain and nerve problems, just to name a few. Secondary cancers can also develop as the cancer spreads to other organs or as an effect of the treatment. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center, radiation oncologists work with the goal of not only curing cancer but ensuring that cancer survivors enjoy the healthiest life possible post treatment.

For example, the more radiation you receive, the more likely you are to get a second, radiation-caused cancer later in life. The younger you are at diagnosis, the more important it is to reduce overall radiation exposure. Innovative treatments, such as proton therapy, which targets radiation that stops at the tumor, rather than continue through healthy tissue, can reduce radiation exposure while still eliminating the cancer.

The ball’s in your court

A cancer diagnosis is a scary thing, but the steps you take after your diagnosis can impact both your life expectancy as well as quality of life. The first step, according to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center, is to make sure your doctor knows that you are concerned with your life after cancer and not just about survival. Research the newest approaches to treatment that can reduce long-term side effects.

Of course, your doctor is only part of the equation. You’ll also want to talk to your insurance company to see whether it takes long-term side effects into consideration when they make decisions on approving certain treatments.

Cancer affects your entire life, and unfortunately, surviving it isn’t the end of the journey. If you would like more information on one of today’s most advanced cancer treatments, visit Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center.

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