The most recent statistics on cancer show that 1 in 2 women, and 1 in 3 men will contract some form of cancer in their lifetimes. While that sounds frightening, do remember that these numbers include many forms of “milder” cancers along with those that are caught early in their development.
Still, aging today means vigilance with regard to preventive screenings, and the possibility of developing some form of cancer might concern you. Luckily, cancer research has helped us to develop new, cutting-edge treatments that will change the way your doctor organizes your care.
Broadening clinical trials. In the past, clinical trials of promising new cancer treatments were limited to those with no other concerning health conditions, and to patients able to access large research hospitals. Clinical trials are now being opened to patients who otherwise might have been denied in the past, and large cancer treatment centers are assisting patients in organizing transportation, lodging, and other aspects of obtaining care many miles from home.
Liquid biopsies. Researchers are fine-tuning methods of detecting cancer via a simple blood test, so that patients no longer need to wait until a large tumor has been detected and surgically biopsied.
No more chemotherapy? Chemotherapy has long been the go-to treatment for cancer, but it is far from ideal. The drugs destroy healthy tissue along with the cancer, and trigger extremely unpleasant side effects. New targeted therapies will help direct cancer-destroying drugs only to the necessary areas, so that patients remain healthier and more comfortable during the course of their treatment.
Precision medicine. A new way of looking at cancer treatment, precision medicine will examine the patient’s DNA for clues that help doctors understand how and why a tumor is persisting. Then they can custom design a treatment plan with the precise drugs needed to address that patient’s problems.
A cure for cancer? Advances in the field of immunotherapy might, in the future, prove to be effective in beating cancer for good.
There’s no cure yet, but in the event that you are ever diagnosed with cancer, your options for treatment will be varied and more effective than in the past. In the meantime, keep attending those preventive screenings. Cancer that is caught earlier is almost always more treatable, with a better chance of remission.