Cancer research has increased significantly in the last ten years, paving the way for new treatments that have become much more targeted and personalized. As Dr. Kevin Dalby explains, this has improved survival rates among cancer patients.
As scientists and doctors have begun to understand cancer better, they’re better able to identify and treat cancers than they were not able to treat long ago. In addition, the continued development of advanced medical technology has enabled these treatments to become a reality.
Here’s a look at the progress made in cancer research over the last ten years.
It’s More Precise
Cancer treatments today no longer take a generic approach to every patient. Doctors have many more options to choose from, allowing them to select the best treatments for the patient’s specific cancer and specific genetics.
Some of the most significant advancements have been in gene sequencing, which has become much faster and cheaper. Advanced computers can process vast groupings of data, which helps to identify the mutations in the cancer genes quicker, ultimately enabling new targeted treatments to take place.
There Are New Therapies
Gene therapy, or CAR T-cell therapy, has been one of the most significant advancements in cancer treatment over the last decade. Doctors can change the T-cells in a patient in a lab to be better at fighting cancer. This is successful because T-cells are one of the types of immune cells.
The FDA has approved gene therapy drugs to treat lymphoma and leukemia in adults and children.
Another advancement in immunotherapy is immune checkpoint inhibitors. These allow the immune system to identify cancer cells that were previously “hiding” in the body. Once the “hidden” cancer cells are revealed through therapy, the immune system can fight them.
Palliative Care is Used More
Palliative care is the approach of focusing on the patient that has cancer. The method here is directed at both the treatment itself and the disease.
As Dr. Kevin Dalby explains, palliative care involves helping both patients and their caregivers manage the systems that the cancer is causing and the side effects that come from the treatment. This may sound simple, but clinical trials have proven to work very well.
When cancer patients receive each of these types of treatment concurrently, several positive things occur. They have symptoms that are more under control. They experience less depression and anxiety. They have an improved quality of life and satisfaction with their family.
And, most importantly, they have better survival rates. For these reasons, palliative care is perhaps the fastest-growing sector of not just cancer treatment but health care in general in America.
About Dr. Kevin Dalby
Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, currently working on cancer drug discovery. At the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas, he examines the mechanisms of nature and cancer to develop new treatments and teach and motivate students to conduct research. Dalby is optimistic about the future of cancer treatments.