Medical technology is constantly evolving and adapting, but one disease in particular is at the forefront of worldwide funding and treatment testing: cancer. Millions of lives could be saved every year through the development of new, successful types of cancer treatment. Out of every six deaths that occur in the world, one is caused by cancer, and it is for this reason that world-leading scientists around the globe are consistently pushing for new breakthroughs in cancer treatment.
Since cancer was first noticed in humans in 3000 B.C., efforts have been made to try and get rid of it or treat it as effectively as can feasibly be expected. Thanks to modern advancements, we now have access to different forms of technology that can aid treatment in cancer patients, and the landscape is rapidly changing.
Early Cancer Treatment
It was the ancient Egyptians who first recognised cancer, and it was the Romans who attempted to kickstart treatment for it. With limited resources, surgery was the obvious (and only) option. There was no such thing as hygiene or anaesthetic all those years ago which meant it was quite literally a case of using a sharpened object to open someone up and hoping for the best. It was painful and gruesome to say the least, and it was somewhat done in vain since the Romans didn’t think that there was a cure in any case.
It was the view that cancer was untreatable, and even if surgery was carried out, the likelihood was that the cancer would return. Instead, focus shifted to managing a cancer diagnosis and little attempt was made by way of curing it. It stayed this way for hundreds of years, with advances in cancer treatment only really being made following the curious efforts of the Victorians who eventually stumbled across anaesthetic.
Once it was discovered people could be safely put to sleep for operations in 1846, Victorian surgeons set about removing as much of a tumour as possible, and so came the rise of more experimental surgery like mastectomies and removing lymph nodes as well as the tumour itself.
Newer Treatments and Symptom Management
Fast forward to the first half of the 20th century and we started to see the introduction of things like chemotherapy. The first patient was successfully cured of their cancer in 1956 using chemotherapy which uses a cocktail of chemicals. Side effects were aplenty, with hair loss, intense nausea and extreme lethargy and fatigue topping the list of unpleasant symptoms. These days, whilst patients can and do experience these side effects, the intensity is drastically reduced thanks to the introduction of symptom managing drugs.
As time has progressed, more treatments have become available, including immunotherapy. When it comes to what types of cancer can be treated with immunotherapy, the answer is almost all of them. In instances where chemotherapy isn’t suitable for patients with the likes of breast cancer, cervical cancer, leukaemia and colorectal cancer, they can instead try immunotherapy. The side effects of immunotherapy can mirror those of chemotherapy, but once again, advances in modern medicine allow oncologists to effectively manage symptoms.
The Future of Cancer Treatment
More cancer treatments are being developed with precision and side effect management in mind. Such treatments include MR-Linac and proton beam therapy, both of which are set to become more common and widespread.
In the background of cancer treatment development, there is an increased focus on cancer prevention. The aim is to reduce the number of people being diagnosed with cancer through a greater understanding of how cancer evolves and how lifestyle choices factor in.
With the progress that has been made in the 65 years since chemotherapy first came around, there’s no doubt that the future of cancer treatment will yield more effective results for patients and hopefully reduce the number of people affected by this disease.
This post has been sponsored by i3media
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