Friday, October 8, 2010

We have a long way to go

Advances in cancer treatment. The war on cancer is 40 years old and where are we? With a long way to go. The National Cancer Institute has published a series of summaries of where we were and where we are going with cancer treatment. They cover colorectal, breast, cervical, prostate, and brain cancers in detail and provide some insights into what specifically in what they are working on. However the general cancer one is disappointingly brief. They summarize the cancer treatment in the world of tomorrow as:

"* We will exploit our rapidly increasing knowledge of genetics, molecular biology, and immunology to develop even more effective and less toxic treatments for cancer. This knowledge will also allow us to detect cancer earlier, when it is most treatable, and to individualize patient care.

* We will continue our efforts to expand knowledge of and access to palliative care, to eliminate cancer-related health disparities, and to ensure the best possible outcomes for all cancer patients."

This tells me that while they have made advances with individual cancers (which sound pretty darn technical) they have not made advances overall. Cancer is actually hundreds of different diseases, not just one. While its nice to see some advances, we need some real advances and cures.

Think of it this way, if we are in a war on cancer, the front lines aren't moving but every so often we win a little skirmish.


Nancy said...

Well said! Time for some real strides!

Chandani said...

I wish they would find a way to detect cancerous cells in the lymph nodes without removing them. I had 2 come back positive after my sentinel node biopsy and had to have 15 more removed in a second surgery - all came back healthy. That surgery did nerve damage that has left numb spots and range of motion issues that are probably permanent, not to mention increasing my risk of lymphedema and infections. And for what?

Cynthia said...

Chandani, they are getting there. My husband's cousin is having her lymph nodes assessed by probes rather than getting them removed for examination. I too had many of mine removed, to show that cancer had been in 2 of them but the rest were clear. I ended up with pretty significant numb patches and tightness like you. I guess I have been willing to put up with that for the benefit of knowing the cancer had not spread. But now that I have heard of this new procedure, I sure wish we had been able to give it a try.

Caroline, keep up the rally cry!

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