Facing a cancer diagnosis can be scary, but it’s not a death sentence. Innovations in medical technology offer today’s cancer patients far more options than they had in the past. The best thing patients and their loved ones can do is take some time to learn about their diagnoses and find out how modern medical science can help. This article will offer some insight into the newest in cancer-fighting innovations and where to find them.
The Problem with Traditional Treatments
Many hospitals and clinics use traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation to fight cancer. While these therapies are often effective, they don’t always provide the best option. Want to find out about the most up-to-date treatments that can be used either in conjunction with or as a replacement for chemotherapy and radiation? You can see your options here or keep reading for an introduction to immuno-oncology.
What is Immuno-oncology?
The innovative field of immuno-oncology uses patients’ own immune systems to fight off cancer. Recent research has focused on finding out how cancer cells escape detection by patients’ immune systems to develop medications that target this immunological escape process. Once cancer cells become susceptible to immune attacks, patients’ innate and adaptive immune cells can infiltrate their tumors to help fight the spread of cancer.
Non-Viral Gene Engineering
Most emerging immuno-oncology therapies use a process known as viral engineering in which an engineered virus selectively targets and destroys cancer cells. Unfortunately, the use of viral vectors creates certain health and safety concerns. Novel forms of immuno-oncology like CAR-T therapy have been developed to treat blood-based cancers using non-viral gene engineering, but they are still in development.
This new form of cancer therapy isn’t right for every patient. Good candidates for non-viral gene therapy include patients with multiple myeloma and castrate-resistant prostate cancer in addition to patients suffering from blood-based cancers. Although these therapies are still being tested, some patients may be able to access them now by enrolling in clinical trials.
What is a Clinical Trial?
The FDA requires manufacturers of new medications and therapies to perform extensive trials prior to making their products available to wider markets. By the time new therapies have reached the market, they’ve been tested not just for efficacy but also for safety and side effects. Enrolling in a clinical trial will give patients the opportunity not just to access novel treatments while they are still in development but also to help others who suffer from the same diseases by allowing scientists and doctors to study the results.
Consult a Doctor
Before enrolling in a clinical trial, patients will have to consult their primary physicians and oncologists to determine whether the benefits of enrolling outweigh the risks. Discussing novel cancer treatments with specialized oncologists will also give patients the chance to find out more about their options and discover ways to get support as they deal with their diagnoses.
The Bottom Line
For many patients, chemotherapy and radiation will still provide the best treatment option. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth exploring every possible avenue for seeking medical care.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is scary and patients deserve to have access to up-to-date information about their options. Modern medical science is progressing at an incredible rate and new treatments enter the testing phase and become approved for mainstream markets all the time.