Thanks to advances in science and cancer treatment, the outlook for today’s patient is much brighter than before. McLeod Cancer Specialist Dr. Ravneet Bajwa looks at some of the new developments, along with the importance of a patient’s family.
Here’s a summary of Dr. Bajwa’s comments:
I think one the new advances in cancer care is immunotherapy. It’s no longer simply chemotherapy. It’s immunotherapy. In the next few years, we will see it as the front-line treatment for most cancers. A second advance involves leukemia CAR T-cells. Some of the lymphomas and leukemias, which were incurable, are now almost entirely healed with CAR T-cells.
There are a few other newer drugs as we move away from chemotherapy and toward targeted therapy. We find a mutation in the cancer and target the mutation. That is a very smart way of dealing with cancer, rather than just giving the same chemotherapy for three different cancers. And the need for research never ends. We look for these genetic mutations and target the mutation. Once you target the mutation, it mutates again. Cancer keeps trying to outsmart us. So, we are continually researching for new treatments and therapies.
Another advantage of the new cancer therapies is that the side effects are not as bad as with chemotherapy. They do have their own set of side effects, but they’re much easier to tolerate, especially with immunotherapy. So, I think the treatment of cancer 10 years from now is going to be totally different from what it is today.
It is very important that you treat the whole person, because sometimes once a person hears the word “cancer,” they forget about everything else. The family that’s supporting the patient goes through a lot. People forget about them. They have their jobs. They have to support the patient. At McLeod, our case managers and social workers are so good at helping the family take their time off from work to be with the patient.
We have to remember that it’s not just the cancer we are treating, it’s the whole person. Our goal is not to kill cancer, but at the same time make the patient very sick. Our goal is to improve the quality of life, not of just for the patient, but also for the family around them.
Have a question? Ask a Cancer Specialist.