Every year the medical field is taking gigantic leaps forward in the way it cares for patients. Not only are new methods of treating illnesses developed every year, but so too are new ways to diagnose illnesses and new ways to foresee possible illnesses in the future in order to alter behaviors before the misfortune can occur.
For all of the fantastic progress which has been made, however, there remains one diagnosis which strikes immediate fear when it comes through to patients — cancer. The good news is that every year which passes also sees many innovations on the way we treat, diagnose and prepare for cancer in its many forms.
Although we now are much better positioned to treat cancers than we were even just a few years ago, the future looks even brighter yet. Here are some of the most eagerly anticipated changes to cancer healthcare which professionals in the field are expecting in the years to come.
No two patients are the same so that means that no two bodies will react the exact same way to a given treatment. While popular treatment plans often are carried out for the masses, by tailoring treatment in small ways to each individual patient doctors are able to give the best possible odds of success for their patients.
Although adjusting treatments to match the needs of the patient has been a part of healthcare throughout modern medicine, what has changed and will continue to change for the better is the degree to which doctors can tailor for their patients. New technologies allow doctors to get a more thorough understanding of their patients to create the best possible treatment plan. With more carefully tailored treatment plans the odds of treating cancer effectively go up leading to more happy success stories.
Finding personalized ways of treating cancer after it develops is a worthwhile goal, and one which will save many lives. Even more exciting for the future, however, is the development of new methods of screening for cancer which allow for earlier detection and a greater understanding of a patient’s predisposition.
Research is being performed by doctor’s like Charis Eng with a goal of identifying genes which have an increased disposition for developing cancers when mutated. As more of these genes are identified it may become possible to assess a patient’s genetic structure and determine areas of increased risk that the individual patient is facing so that they can take on behaviors which reduce their exposure.
Increased Access to Healthcare
It doesn’t matter how advanced the medical community gets on a treatment level if the patients are not able to come in and receive the screening or treatments that are developed. Karen M. Freund is anticipating changes to the way healthcare is offered to individuals in need, helping to extend better healthcare to disenfranchised communities.
In the current medical landscape minority communities, those with low income and vulnerable populations all have lower survival rates when cancers develop. This is caused by a combination of a lack of access to premium care as well as the inability to take the time away from work in order to receive the care that is needed. When medical care becomes more accessible for individuals from all communities this will no longer be a concern and the drop in fatal cases among these communities will help to lower the overall effect of cancer around the globe.
Immunotherapy With Living Drugs
One field which is offering particularly promising results for treating many diseases and conditions is immunotherapy. In an immunotherapy treatment the body’s own immune system is purposely triggered to work harder and target elements which could not otherwise be treated. Harnessing this power to attack cancerous cells may lead to a treatment with a high success rate.
Living drugs are one type of immunotherapy why may be able to be targeted toward cancer treatment. Harry Stylli writes about a treatment approved by the FDA in 2017 which entails the extraction of a patient’s white blood cells. These cells are then genetically modified to specifically target cancerous cells before being re-injected into the patient from which they were extracted.
This injection has the ultimate effect of training a patient’s body to fight and destroy cancerous cells and it is hoped that this use will lead to an effective therapy which is significantly less invasive than current treatments like surgery or chemotherapy.
The fight against cancer is ongoing and there are no easy solutions. With so many great minds hard at work finding the treatments of tomorrow, however, there is reason for hope. As we push on into the 2020’s and beyond there is cause for optimism that a future exists where cancer is not the world-shattering diagnosis that it is today, and that a world where cancer can be cured remains a reality.