What Is Cancer Remission?
Cancer is a complex diagnosis that can mean different things for different people. Some diseases are incredibly aggressive and have a very low survival rate while others have a higher chance of going into remission. It’s important for patients and their families to understand cancer remission and what it means for the long-term.
Types of Cancer Remission
Essentially, remission means that the body does not have cancer or has improved considerably. There are two types of remission when it comes to cancer.
Complete remission means that the doctor can no longer see any signs of cancer in the body. However, it’s important that even in the case of complete remission; there may be microscopic cancer cells that can’t be detected with the current medical technology.
Partial remission indicates that cancer has shrunk or stabilized for a period of time. Usually, partial remission is determined if a tumor size has decreased by 50 percent and has remained that size for at least one month.
While partial remission may improve the quality of life of a patient, patients should understand that the cancer is still present and active in the body. Keep in mind, while complete remission may be favorable news to a patient, it does not mean that cancer will never return to the body.
Remission vs. Cured
Remission is not the same as cured. A cancer cure indicates that the disease has been eradicated and will never return to the body. At this time, there is no cure for cancer. Remission essentially means that you are completely cancer-free or partially cancer-free, but cancer may return at a later date. The prognosis for cancer returning depends on a variety of factors, and there is no sure way to determine whether or not cancer will remain in remission.
Patients should be aware that the longer they are in remission, the less likely it is that cancer will return. However, doctors disagree about the timeline of remission and what it may mean for patients simply because some cancers have a higher remission rate than others. It is difficult to determine the expected remission of all cancer patients because there are so many variables in each case.
How Do You Get in Remission?
Your doctor can provide more insight into the specific treatment plan that can help you get to remission. However, some factors will influence the likeliness of this happening. Those factors include:
- The type of cancer.
- The stage of cancer.
- Side effects of treatment options.
- Overall health.
- Age of patient.
The type of treatment your doctor suggests will also determine the methods that are used. However, typical methods your doctor may try include:
- Bone marrow transplant.
- Radiation therapy.
- Drug therapy.
- Hormone therapy.
Your doctor will provide insight into your prognosis and the best avenue for treatment based on your lifestyle and your exact situation.
Tips for Staying Cancer-Free
Remaining cancer-free is the goal of every patient and their doctor. Even if your cancer goes into remission, it’s essential to follow the tips that your doctor suggests to increase your chances of remaining cancer-free for many years or even a lifetime.
Remember, there is no guarantee that cancer will never return, but you can play an active role in maintaining your health.
Some of those tips may include:
- Continue cancer care. Even if you are in remission, you should continue regular check-ups and evaluations to make sure that cancer has not returned. Remember, early detection is key to treating cancer, and if your doctor can diagnose it early enough then you can increase the chances of it going into remission again.
- Continue treatments while in partial remission. Your doctor may offer a less aggressive treatment plan while you are in partial remission, but you should continue to treatments as suggested. Remember, partial remission is not total remission, and proper treatments could influence whether cancer goes into complete remission or not. Often, people feel better when their cancer goes into partial remission, but treatment will help keep you feeling better.
- It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet. Several studies indicate that proper nutrition can help the body remain cancer-free.
- Avoid smoking.
- Maintain an active lifestyle by exercising or participating in some other regular physical activity a few times per week.
- Don’t forget the emotional toll that cancer can take on your mind. Stress and anxiety can influence remission rates. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area.
Cancer remission is undoubtedly good news for the patient. It’s important for patients to celebrate their remission and remain optimistic about their future. However, your doctor can discuss statistics for the future and tips for bettering your chances of remaining cancer-free for years to come.
If you would like more information about cancer remission, rely on the expertise of your medical provider.