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How is Light Being Used to Treat Cancer and Other Diseases

The acronym LASER stands for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’, a technique used in certain implements to direct narrow beams of light to achieve a specific purpose. In conventional medicinal practice, laser therapy is commonly used to treat certain pervasive Cancers; which may either be superficially placed, or deep inside the body’s various cavities and tissue structures. With a Spectrum Cable subscription, you can attain a wealth of information on the myriad of ways in which lasers are deployed to rid a patient of his/her varied ailments (which may not always be neoplasmic in nature).



Laser Treatment – In a Nutshell

Within the strict confines of cancer treatment, lasers are most commonly used to achieve a total of three ends:
  • To shrink tumorous tissues (through targeted heat exposure)
  • To rupture and kill tumorous cells (through pin-point incinerations)
  • To activate certain photosensitive chemical dyes (previously taken up by malignant cells) that cause cancer cells to effectively implode from within

To make these feats possible (either as adjuncts to traditional chemotherapy routines, or as invasive surgical procedures in their own right), oncologists (who are medical specialists specifically trained in cancer management) use a combination of the following laser guns:
  • Argon Laser
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) Laser
  • Neodymium: yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) Laser 

The Argon and CO2 lasers are mostly employed to target relatively superficial cancerous tissues on the skin and organ surfaces. For deeper tissue penetrations, Nd: YAG-integrated options are utilized. This latter facility is normally used along with an array of endoscopes that allow for strategic intrusions into the body’s hard-to-reach internal regions (either through natural openings, or the ones that are surgically created) where surgeons are then enabled to narrow-in on cancerous lesions in a precise manner.

The Benefits attained through Laser Therapy

Lasers are increasingly being considered as the treatment implements of choice by a variety of cancer specialists and skilled medical interventionists due to the significant benefit of accuracy that they bring to the surgical table. In contrast to scalpels, which lead to the introduction of a number of infections and side-along tissue injuries into the already immunocompromised subject when not handled properly, lasers make way for very precise cuts into target tissue sites.

This feature of laser use is apportioned an even higher degree of importance in the case of brain and spinal cord surgeries, where inaccurate cuts can lead to a great deal of corresponding damage inflicted on the bodily locations whose vital nerve connections may become severed in consequence. With lesser cellular damage to contend with, patients’ recovery times are relatively shorter in the case of laser treatment – making its affiliated procedures manageable in OPD settings.

An additional benefit of laser therapy comes in the form of ‘secondary infection prevention’. Since the single wavelength light beam emitted from a laser cannot serve as the breeding ground for any kind of virus or bacterium specie, it is reasoned to be fully sterile (in the sense of being clean of any pathogenic impurities).

On the Flip Side

Laser therapy, on the downside, comes with its fair share of pitfalls; which altogether aren’t too many (when considered in the context of a cost/benefit analysis) to warrant not receiving it on a timely basis.

The said treatment option, for one, is normally very expensive, and so it inflicts a heavy toll on the patient’s financial situation. Secondly, not every cancer unit is equipped with surgical staff that is fully trained in the intricacies of laser surgery; because of which hospital facilities that do offer this treatment course are usually packed with queues of cancer-affectees who have to wait for long hours to get duly operated upon.

In addition, because of its considerably more targeted nature, laser therapy might require repeated treatment sessions on particular patients to yield their full effects; owing to faster recovery rates.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

PDT entails injecting the patient’s bloodstream with a photosensitive dye (agent) that subsequently crosses the plasma membranes of all cells that it comes in contact with; including those that are healthy and functioning normally. Cancer cells have a tendency to hold onto this substance for a longer period of time than their healthier tissue counterparts, making them susceptible to accurate identification and strategic laser-based assaults.

Upon appropriate light stimulation, this dye (which becomes part of the protoplasmic interior of tumorous tissues) becomes heated – with the acquired kinetic energy causing the diseased cells to rupture from inwards out. Healthy cells, which do not hold onto the dye for long, remain unaffected during the eroding process.

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)  

For minimally invasive treatment procedures, such as in the case of addressing mouth sores, ulcers, fluid retention epidemics and various swellings, many medical professionals make use of laser light in low-level laser therapy regimens.

These sessions involve using a thinly-penetrating laser diode to penetrate soft tissue structures (such as those of the eyes) only minutely – making it possible to treat ailments other than Cancer.

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