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Reasons for Optimism

Posted 5/1/2015

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Finishing the week, especially on this Friday which is the first of May after a very difficult winter, with optimism seems a good plan. In addition to the treatment and research related pieces of good news, I can add a number of others from my thirty plus years in the business.

When I first began my job, there were no good medicines to control chemotherapy-related nausea. When patients finished an infusion, they were given a little bucket to use on the way home--and some never even made it to their cars before the vomiting began. Blessedly, it just is not remotely like that anymore. Most people receiving most chemotherapies never vomit; they may have some nausea and surely won't feel all that well sometimes, but we have effective drugs to control the situation (almost always). And another, just before I began working at BI, the standard regimen for women with early breast cancer was two years of chemotherapy. It was changed to a year, and then, shortly thereafter, it was changed again to six months. And another breast cancer one: when I began, there was exactly one treatment for metastatic breast cancer. When it, adrymiacin, stopped working, that was it. There was nothing else to offer.

And others: I knew many people in those years who lost their jobs because of their diagnosis and treatment. I knew some others who actually had the experience of being handed a plastic glass at a party while everyone else had a glass one; there really was still fear that cancer is contagious.

We all know that progress has been made, but we also know there is a long way to go. This, however, is a feel good article from Memorial Sloan Kettering. I give you the start and a link to read more. Happy spring.

The Future of Cancer: Five Reasons for Optimism

The history of attempts to understand and control cancer is littered with disappointments and false starts. Many significant advances in research and treatment have been made in recent years, yet the disease remains a leading cause of death in the United States and
around the world. Among those of us whose lives have been touched by cancer, many feel frustrated by the slow pace of progress.
But Memorial Sloan Kettering scientists and doctors firmly believe we’re on the cusp of a brighter era. Today we have more reasons than ever to be hopeful about the future of cancer care and science. Let’s take a look at five of them.

Precision Medicine: It’s Happening
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama announced an initiative focused on precision medicine in his State of the Union address. Precision medicine is the vision that all people one day will be offered customized care, with treatments that match our genomic profiles and personal histories. Such individualized therapies promise to be more effective and result in fewer side effects than more-traditional ones developed for the average patient.
For most diseases, precision medicine hasn’t yet delivered on its promise. But many people with cancer have gained dramatically improved options with targeted therapies that reverse the effect of specific gene mutations in their tumor cells. Such drugs are not yet available for most situations.


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