Wednesday, April 20, 2016

There is a really big gap between patient needs and research advancements

At a recent conference, Dr Piccart-Gebhart asked the question of how the highly fragmented breast cancer research is meeting patient's needs. This raises a very good point.

We know there is all sorts of medical research going on right now. It covers many different areas in gene expression, tumor micro environment and more, and for each type of breast cancer that exists. But does it answer these questions, as noted in the articlets?

"Patients with advanced-stage HER2-positive breast cancer tend to want answers to the following questions:
  • Can I live for many more years with the disease?
  • Can I be sure that the chosen therapy will truly help me?
  • Can I stay away from therapies with marked side effects for long periods of time?..."
"Patients with early HER2-positive breast cancer have a different perspective when it comes to tailoring their treatment. What they want to know is:
  • Can I be sure that my long-term treatment will help me?
  • Can I do as well with a simpler or a shorter treatment?
  • Can I forgo aggressive chemotherapy?"
I know these questions were posed as for HER2+ patients but I think they are applicable for all early and late stage cancer patients. As a cancer patient, I hear about new research all the time but very rarely am I able to 'connect the dots' and figure out what it would really mean for me if available when I was diagnosed.

The article I mention above had an doctor and consultant to Roche-Genentech answering the questions for HER2+ patients. I am not a doctor.

Usually when I ask my doctors about a new advancement that sounds like it might work for me, I am told that yes its new but needs more research before they can be sure... Well how can I tell? I don't have the training to understand all this medical stuff. It would be nice if research was presented in a way us patients could understand and how it ties into other research and what it means for the patient. This is a really big gap. 

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