More than half of the people diagnosed with cancer in the United States are at least 55 years old. However, with the upgrades in cancer care, most of those people are living out their full lives despite their diagnosis.
The following are some of the biggest advances that have been made or are being worked on in cancer care.
Alternatives to chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is one of the best known treatment options for cancer, but more recently there have been new options available. These drugs that can potentially replace chemo can destroy cells, including cancer cells. They can cause side effects such as weakened immune system and nausea. Due to these side effects, doctors may hesitate in prescribing them for treatment
Moving forward, older adults that have been diagnosed with cancer could benefit from the targeted therapy that is becoming more common. The targeted therapies focus on specific things that are seen in cancer cells and cause cancer growth, such as genes and proteins.
With this recent rise in use, some patients have been able to avoid chemotherapy all-together or be treated with a much smaller dose.
Earlier this year, the FDA created a new guidance document for opening up cancer clinical trial eligibility to more people. Since only three percent of cancer patients in the United States currently enroll in clinical trials, this is big news. Currently, most older adults are disqualified from clinical trials for pre-existing conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Clinical trials are likely to become more accessible to older adults. Previously, clinical trials have been conducted at medical centers that required people to travel to them. This created an issue for anyone with mobility problems. Cancer centers are now moving forward and working toward options that make the process easier on patients.
Just like there aren’t two people who are the exact same, there are no two cancers that are the same. A new form of cancer treatment acknowledges this, and is called precision.
Precision is a type of personalized medicine that uses any genetic changes in a specific patients tumor to adjust their treatment. By doing this, the treatment will target what is making the tumor grow.
This means that instead of giving every patient chemotherapy and watching for benefits, each patient can receive a treatment designed for them. Precision medication will continue to grow and become more effective with time and experience.
We are constantly growing and learning better methods for cancer care. If you think one of these newer methods may help you, talk to your doctor.