Cancer is one of the scariest words in the English language! But what is cancer… it’s a collection of cells that destroy other cells. Leukemia is cancer of the blood. It doesn’t come with tumors, but the white cells attack the red cells and create a deficiency in in the blood supply that can cause death. Breast cancer is a terrible disease that attacks women and can be fatal if treatment is not immediate upon diagnosis. Ovarian cancer and cervical cancer are also exclusively female diseases and can kill if not treated immediately.
Cancer can be found with blood tests, physical examinations or x-rays. There are so many types of cancer that no one cure will work on all of them. Some come in the form of tumors that kill all the surrounding cells and some just attack different organs. Radiation, chemo-therapy and freezing are just some of the currently accepted treatments for different types of cancers. Surgery can remove a tumor, but bone marrow transplants work on leukemia and chemo can slow down the spread of other forms of cancer. With so many forms of cancer, the treatments have to match the needs. Technology is advancing rapidly and new treatments and cures are on the medical “horizon.”
It the ongoing battle against cancer (in all its many forms) there are new drugs that may be effective treatments. For example, Vectibix (panitumumab) showed some success against advanced colorectal cancer if patients had the normal (“wild type”) form of the KRAS gene and not a mutated version.
Surgery is still the mainstay of cancer treatment, of course. Removing a tumor is easier and usually more beneficial than trying to kill it with chemotherapy. Once the tumor is gone, a little chemotherapy or specific radiation can make sure that it doesn’t return and spread.
Cancer has many forms and every one is being researched with the best of modern technology. As we advance in science and new methods, better treatments will be found to improve the chances of cancer patients.
Molecular Markers: New Breakthroughs
Because of molecular markers such as genes and proteins, the latest tests can show whether or not a specific cancer can be treated or beaten with the current prescription drugs. Cancer cells and mutated cancer cells each have a distinct way that they handle these drugs.
By finding out what the patient and doctor are dealing with on a deeper level, the path of remission can bee foreseen. This process can help oncologists determine which patients will get better and which ones will merely get worse with or without these specific treatments.
Molecular Markers: Tests and Research
“The ultimate goal is to bring personalized medicine to reality, to identify characteristics of tumors or patients where we can make a relatively dramatic impact using targeted agents,” explains Dr. Bruce Johnson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “The goal of these studies is tests that could pinpoint which patients will reap the biggest benefit from a particular cancer therapy.”
Mid Fall of 2008 a conference was held. Oncology experts gathered to discuss various research reports and tests to show positive results on the front of molecular markers. The research is showing clear predictions on whether or not a specific drug treatment will be beneficial.
One last comment from Dr. Johnson: “Most of the pharmaceutical industry has been focused on making 100 percent of patients 20 percent better. Today, we’re talking about markers that can help 20 percent of patients get 100 percent better.”