2014: A Year of Cancer Treatment Breakthroughs in The News
As we approach the end of 2014, it seems like the right time to look back and touch on some of the milestone moments in the fight against cancer. Here are just some of the many advancements as reported by mainstream media this year.
What some called the most important cancer breakthrough in a decade was announced for those suffering from breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. NBC News introduced the topic of PARP Inhibitors. While early trials only involved 60 patients, the performance of the PARP Inhibitors impressed researchers.
There are two genes that put women at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and men at risk for prostate cancer: BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. [Editor’s Note: Click here for an infographic created by OHC on Genetic Testing for BRCA 1 and 2] The PARP Inhibitors actually combine with the defects in cells caused by BRCA 1 and 2 genes. The result is the death of the tumors.
The drugs also don’t have the side effects associated with chemotherapy, such as hair loss or intense nausea, either. It’s believed that this drug is on the fast track for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
OHC has been on the forefront of PARP Inhibitor research, as we participated in at least 2 PARP inhibitor trials for breast cancer.
Just a month later, Fox News presented good news for patients of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease. A new combination of CRS-207 and GVAX Pancreas drugs was touted as a breakthrough. A Phase II clinical trial of 93 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who did not respond to other treatments, found that the drugs provided “better outcomes” for patients.
This immune system-boosting treatment is hoped to extend the lives of pancreatic cancer patients, and could be on the fast track to FDA approval.
The Huffinging Post reported in October that researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College had identified a protein that is “responsible for controlling a genetic pathway that impacts tumor growth” in breast cancer patients. This protein helps tumors survive. Now, armed with the knowledge of this protein’s role in tumor growth, researchers can begin looking for ways to shut it down.
It was also discovered this year how important aspirin really is when it comes to cancer. While aspirin itself is not a breakthrough, the results it brought were. An observational study examined women with Stage I, II and III breast cancer. It found that those women who took the pain killer two to five times per week were 71 percent less likely to die from the disease.
This month, The Daily Mail announced that British researchers had discovered that a drug made from tree bark, combretastatin, combined with radiation therapy was successful against cancer. During laboratory trials that involved mice with human tumors, the combination was 85 percent effective, resulting in the tumors completely disappearing.
Some researchers called this a possible long-term cure for those with many common forms of cancer. This targeted therapy could be available for patients within five years.
More-targeted therapies are important innovations utilized by OHC. In fact, OHC employs modern targeted therapies like Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain tumors, Cyberknife radiotherapy for prostate cancer, and da Vinci robotic surgery for gynecologic conditions. All are minimally invasive treatments that reduce pain and recovery time.
As cancer research continues to advance, more and more therapies, treatments, and drugs will be labeled as breakthroughs. In fact, OHC’s Research Department, the OHC has conducted nearly 300 such trials, with many incredible outcomes. Today, our patients now have access to one of the area’s largest, most successful independent research programs. And the program continues to grow.
The future of cancer care relies on the success of our industry’s research programs. OHC is transforming into a significant research institute. Already, we are the area’s largest independent conductor of clinical trials. To lead in the future, we must lead today in advancing our knowledge and giving patients access to promising trials.
This is good news for those patients with the disease and their loved ones. Progress in the fight against cancer is the goal of research.
In 2014, definite strides were made in the fight against cancer, and OHC is both proud and humbled to be on the forefront of these and many more breakthroughs to come.