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Today, people affected by cancer have one primary question: "What are my treatment options?" The good news is that within the last several years, the number of available cancer treatment options has increased dramatically. Michael S. Gordon, MD, the medical director for Cancer Clinical Trials at the HonorHealth Research Institute, describes some of the latest developments in cancer treatment.
Robotic surgery has emerged as a very popular way to treat conditions like colon cancer. In addition to being minimally invasive, this surgical option also makes it easier for patients to get back up on their feet after treatment. Read more on robotic surgery.
Dr. Gordon describes a massive evolution in recent years with regard to targeted therapies, based primarily on the ability to identify driver mutations. These are mutations within the cancer that are directly responsible for the growth and/or survival of the cancer cells. Targeting these mutations with specific drugs or drug combinations has shown great promise in shrinking cancer cells.
Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to treat cancer. Immunotherapy once involved drugs developed from naturally occurring proteins such as interferons, Dr. Gordon noted. Modern immunotherapy involves drugs and antibodies that target pathways responsible for suppressing the immune system’s response to cancer. Many of these are much more effective for treating certain types of cancer.
Immunotherapy has now been approved in the treatment of melanoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma as well as a number of other cancers. Clinical trials of newer drugs or combinations of immunotherapy continue.
What are the additional benefits of new treatments?
Benefits of newer treatment options – beyond a potential cure – include:
• Shorter healing times: Some new treatments, such as robotic surgeries, present the possibility of shortened healing times and fewer side effects.
• Hope: For many patients, new cancer treatment options offer hope. Cancer is a frightening diagnosis and many may find additional treatment options that may impact their survival or quality of life.
Seeking new treatments for cancer care
Cancer is a diverse and varied disease, so it makes sense that the treatments are as well. While there are new and emerging treatments for cancer, the recommendations about treatment will vary from case to case. Dr. Gordon encourages patients to work together with their oncologists to establish an open dialogue about options.
“If the patient wishes to explore new cancer treatment options, their doctors can be a valuable resource,” says Dr. Gordon. “If patients choose to pursue these investigational options, it's essential that they discuss the timing with their doctor. Not only does this ensure proper care for the patient, it creates a dynamic, respectful environment for all parties involved.”
Learn more about cancer research at HonorHealth.