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Essay Example: New Developments in Cancer Treatment

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Boston College
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One diagnosed with cancer anticipates not only the adverse effects it would cause to the body, but also the expensive medical cost and the treatments side effects (DiMasi & Grabowaki, 2013). However, there is hope since cancer treatment has made significant progress in recent years, and has made the disease manageable. New developments have reduced deaths due to cancer, but the disease is still a cause of pain to many people and their families. Managing the disease is also costly, that adds more strain to the suffering people (Kean & Lessor, 2012). Different forms of cancer emerge every now and then, and this makes research into the disease necessary to keep up with the new trends. Radiation and chemotherapy have been used extensively in the past as treatment methods (Petak, 2012). There are new prevention and treatment methods such as immunotherapies, angiogenesis inhibitors and epigenetics, that now improve patient outcomes. Patient outcomes have now improved because of the new developments in cancer treatment.

Understanding cancer has been a vital process towards providing treatment. It is a disease that comes about from the abnormal generation of cells. The tissue where the generation of cells occurs would help in the classification of the cancer. Cancers can also be classified based on their molecular and cellular characteristics (Petak, 2012). Classification is useful to determine the type drug to develop for its treatment. It is after classification that researchers can determine the approach for finding a cure. A cure for cancer is determined by finding the root cause of the abnormal cell regeneration, which can be from gene mutation. However, this approach does not work for many of the various forms of cancers. The cancers develop resistance when applying cure from a singular approach (Lackner, Wilson & Settleman, 2012). For this reason, targeting the cancer molecule from different angles can be necessary in appreciation of the complexity of the disease. The development of the cure for cancer is challenging up to the point when a safe and effective drug can be produced.

Developments in cancer research have determined that it is a complex disease that sometimes needs a combination of medicine for the treatment (Petak, 2012). In the understanding of cancer, researchers have resolved some of the causes of cancer in the body and its pathways. As such, learning how to block these pathways has been a vital step towards preventing the development and spread of cancer.

There are many challenges that arise in the development of drugs to combat cancer. The tumor is not the only thing placed under the microscope, since it is also important to study the environment that the makes the cancer thrive (Magrath, 2012). The factors that contribute the development of cancer include external factors, immune system response, and gene mutations. Therefore, treatment needs to consider these factors in its approach. However, tumors are adaptive where they might find different pathways to continue their spread despite of the treatments administered. A single tumor might contain different cells that vary whereby a single form of medicine is insufficient. The genetic and cellular variations of cancer mean that finding treatment is equally as complex and not a straight path. The diversity of cancer cells within a single tumor makes it vital to have sophisticated tools for diagnosis and the development of medicines (Lackner, Wilson & Settleman, 2012). Even after administering medication, there is the need to prepare and anticipate for the cancer drug resistance.

Cancer is a complex disease that equally has complex treatment methods where the treatment of one form of cancer is different from the approach of treating another form of cancer (Petak, 2012). There are forms of cancers where treatment over the years has improved while there are others where development for treatment is still required. Early detection through innovative diagnostic methods and subsequent treatment has improved patient outcomes and increased cancer survival rates. Nonetheless, there is need for more treatment plans and regimen. The ones currently available are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. In addition, there are treatment methods that specifically target the proteins of the cancer cells leaving the healthy cells unaffected (Magrath, 2012). This form of specific treatment avoids the side effects that many patients face due to treatments such as chemotherapy that affects healthy blood cells and hair follicles.

There are new forms of treatment that have come up to try and combat cancer from different angles. One of the treatment methods include the use of angiogenesis inhibitors (Lackner, Wilson & Settleman, 2012). The formation of new blood vessels is termed as angiogenesis, and the inhibitors work to prevent the formation of new blood vessels that cancers depend on for them to spread. Another form of cancer treatment involves the change of genes in a persons body. Research has shown that cancer is dependent on the DNA. By altering the DNA sequence, in the process known as epigenetics, the cancerous cells can be controlled. Immunotherapies are also proving to be effective methods for cancer treatment (Magrath, 2012). The bodys immune system is able to fight of cancer, and with the addition of cancer vaccines, the body can be strengthened to prevent abnormal cell generation.

There have been developments in cancer treatment that provide antibodies to a persons immune system that help stop cancerous cell growth and in some instances, terminate the cells. Preventive vaccines prepare the body for protection against cancerous cells (DiMasi & Grabowaki, 2013). The vaccines make the bodys immune system stronger against infectious cells. Liver cancer and cervical cancer are two types of cancers that currently have preventive vaccines. Vaccines are also available for people that are already battling the disease. The vaccines known as therapeutic vaccines help the body fight off cancer by strengthening the immune system. Metastatic prostate cancer is one type of cancer where therapeutic vaccines can be applied to strengthen the bodys immune system to fight the cancer (Magrath, 2012). Antibody drug conjugates are also another form cancer treatment that once introduced in the body, targets the cancerous cells destroying them without causing any harm to the normal body cells.

Patient outcomes has improved in recent years due to the developments in cancer treatment. Early detection still remains vital for its treatment or management. Vaccines have been the emerging form of treatment against cancer. It means that before, treatment was made to combat the existing condition, but now preventive measures are deemed necessary in stopping cancer. The previous forms of treatment, radiation and chemotherapy had negative side effects with minimal positive outcomes. The direction taken by the new developments in cancer treatment seek to be more effective, and importantly do away with the side effects. Cancer is a complex disease such that it varies form one individual to another. For this reason, there are personalized treatments that can be combined with other forms of medicine for patients. Lung cancer, melanoma, and brain cancer are some of the types of cancers where research and development for their cures is still greatly needed.



DiMasi J., & Grabowaki H. (2013). Economics of New Oncology Drug Development. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25(2): 209-216.

Kean, M., & Lessor, T. (2012). Sustaining Progress Against Cancer in an Era of Cost Containment Discussion Paper. Cambridge, MA: Feinstein Kean Healthcare.

Lackner, M., Wilson, T., & Settleman, J. (2012). Mechanisms of Acquired Resistance to Targeted Cancer Therapies. Future Oncology. 2012;8(8):999-1014.

Magrath, I. (2012). New Directions in Cancer Treatment. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.Petak, I., et al. (2012). Integrating Molecular Diagnostics into Anticancer Drug Discovery. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 9, 523-535.


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