5 Ways Technology is Changing Cancer Treatment

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people die each year from various types of cancer. Although there are treatments that can put the disease into remission, it is a notoriously difficult condition to treat. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are hard on the body and don’t always work. Even when they do, cancers often reoccur later in the patient’s life.

Fortunately, technology and treatments for cancer patients are always improving, since the disease impacts nearly every family to some degree. Let’s take a look at some of the exciting new ways technology is changing cancer treatment for the better.

1. Advanced Science to Understand DNA and Genetics

 

Cancer is easier to treat if it’s caught early on. Since many people are genetically predisposed to developing certain kinds of cancers, understanding a patient’s DNA and genetics can help with monitoring and early treatment.

 

Scientists aren’t just putting their energy toward understanding the genetic and environmental factors that are involved with cancer risk. They’re also using genetics in the treatment of tumors. Some companies are customizing cancer treatments according to the genetic makeup of the tumor itself. Using that DNA, they can target specific mutations and determine which treatments are likely to be the most effective.

 

2. Adoption of PET Imaging for Cancer Prevention

 

Although we absolutely need better treatments for cancer, even better is preventing it in the first place, or treating it when it’s still in the very early stages. Imaging plays an important role in cancer diagnostics and treatment planning, and it’s come a very long way in the last few decades.

 

Of the many different types of imaging equipment, PET-CT, a fusion of two existing types of imaging, is showing great promise for early cancer detection and surgical planning. This technology can actually find changes at the cellular level, allowing for diagnosis to occur long before other imaging equipment can detect changes. In some cases, PET-CT scans can even prevent the need for exploratory surgery, since it is able to provide such precise information.

 

3. New Improvements to Radiology

 

Radiotherapy is an important component in many cancer treatment plans, but until now, it could never be delivered while the oncologist watched. New improvements in radiology include technology known as the Magnetic Resonance Linear Accelerator (MR Linac) machine. This machine blends the diagnostic power of an MRI with radiotherapy, allowing doctors to see the area they are treating in real time as they deliver radiation.

 

This new technology is just emerging in the UK, and is especially helpful for cancers of the prostate, bladder, lungs, and bowels, which tend to move around as the patient breathes. With the MR Linac machine, doctors can adjust as needed to ensure the treatment is reaching the areas where it’s needed.

 

4. Real Focus on Treating Cancer with Patient Care

In the past, treatment plans for diseases like cancer were often conducted with the doctor’s needs in mind, rather than the patient’s. Today, healthcare organizations are shifting toward patient-centric care to help improve outcomes and really focus on treating cancer patients using various approaches.

 

This patient-oriented health model, known as clinical integration, might seem obvious. But in the past, it has been difficult for different specialists to collaborate on patient care due to difficulty in sharing information. Electronic health records, which have now become standard in the United States, allow all of a patient’s providers to more easily access relevant information and get a full view of the patient’s health. This not only helps to improve patient care, it reduces cost and allows for different approaches to be considered. Overall, it puts the patient at the center of the process.

 

5. Cancer Treatments with Stem Therapies and More

 

Since cancer is such a devastating and unique disease, researchers are always working on new treatment options.

 

One of these new potential treatments is stem cell transplant therapy, which involves doctors using high doses of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, then transplanting stem cells to replace those that are lost during a chemo treatment. Other options include hyperthermia therapy, which uses heat to kill cancer cells, and even hormone therapy for certain types of cancer.

 

Advancements in Cancer Treatment: A Multi-Faceted Process

 

Early detection should always be a priority in battling cancer, as it can save lives and reduce the need for invasive procedures. Because cancers can present in many different ways, it is essential for doctors to have a wide range of potential treatments available. Fortunately, researchers are hard at work to find those solutions and save as many lives as possible.

 

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1 Comments

DP
Dipesh Parmar 1 Year Ago - Edited

Hi Ryan

 

Thought this might be of interest to you:

https://deepmind.com/blog/breast-cancer-screening-japan/

 

 

Deepmind is also doing a lot more to advance medicine and treatment of diseases like cancer:

https://deepmind.com/blog/