Cancer Treatment: What Does Cancer Remission Mean?


Patient Education

Cancer Treatment: What Does Cancer Remission Mean?

Many may be familiar with the term cancer remission. But what does it really mean? Simply put, being in remission is when cancer cells can no longer be detected in the body and there are no symptoms present. Cancer remission is a period of time during which cancerous cells are reduced to such low levels that they no longer cause symptoms or require treatment. In some cases, remission may last for years or even decades.

Partial and Complete Remission

There are two main types of remission: partial and complete. In partial remission, cancer cells are reduced but still detectable, while in complete remission, they are no longer detectable by conventional methods of assessment such as scans and cancer markers in the blood. With the availability of precision and personalised medicine in cancer treatment, we are able to achieve remission for more patients suffering from cancer.

Cancer treatment typically involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and more recently, immunotherapy. The form of treatment will depend on the type and stage of cancer.

Precision medicine is a new approach to treatment of cancer, wherein oncologists offer and plan specific care for their patients, based on the particular genes, proteins, and other substances in a person’s cancer and body. It usually includes genomic characterisation of the cancer using sophisticated genetic tests to determine potentially targetable mutations that the cancer may have. This is different from the older, one size fits all approach using chemotherapy.

Cancer Recurrence

Cancer treatment has come a long way in recent years. There are some instances, however, that the cancer does come back. A cancer recurrence is when the cancer comes back after it has been treated. The cancer cells can come back in the same place as the original cancer or in another part of the body.

If the cancer does recur, it is crucial to find it early, when it is most likely to be treated successfully. Typically if cancer cells do return, it usually happens within five years from the first diagnosis and treatment. There are many possible reasons why cancer might come back, and it is not always possible to know exactly why this happens. However, there are some instances that can make it more likely.

For example, if the original cancer was large or had spread to other parts of the body, it may be more likely to recur. Another reason might be if the cancer was only partially removed during treatment. Cancer cells can also be left behind after treatment and grow into a new tumour. Sometimes, treatments that damage healthy cells and cause side effects can also make it more likely that cancer may recur.

It is important to remember that cancer recurrence is not unpreventable once you’re in remission. There are many things that patients can do to reduce their risk, including staying active, eating healthy, and maintaining a positive attitude. By actively managing their health and taking steps to reduce their risk, patients can live full lives.

Managing Your Cancer Journey

The journey of cancer for every individual is different. Doctors typically do not use the word cured since they can’t know for sure that all cancer cells in a person’s body are gone.

Manage your cancer journey with utmost care and quality treatment with OncoCare Cancer Centre in Singapore. Our oncology specialists are committed to the most comprehensive and personalised care for each of our patients. At our integrated facility, you can be assured of cancer screening and treatment options according to your individual preferences and requirements. No matter the stage of your cancer journey, we ensure you have access to the most effective approaches including new targeted therapies and imaging while sparing you the unnecessary toxicities. Make an appointment at one of our centrally located clinics today for better cancer care.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:
Dr Akhil Chopra
MBBS (Delhi)
American Board Certified (Int Med)
American Board Certified (Hematology)
American Board Certified (Med Oncology)