One of the most pressing challenges faced in the 21st century is determining a treatment for cancer. The knowledge about mechanisms behind this disease has undoubtedly improved greatly during the last two decades where discoveries about varying types of cancers and variation of cancer for each patient have also been made. The fact that there is no single cure to the disease has become immensely evident, and rather each patient requires a treatment or therapy specific to their type and nature of cancer.
DNA Fingerprinting and Cancer
DNA fingerprinting or genetic fingerprinting is a method which enables to identify individuals using their blood, hair, semen or other samples which are based on their DNA. The latest emerging use of which is personalized treatment for cancer patients using DNA fingerprinting.
A latest method to collect the DNA fingerprint of individuals’ cancer cells is by first exposing the genetic diversity of cancer. Oncologists can be helped in determining the growth of tumor by a single cancer cell as the genetic fingerprint obtained from it can reveal the genetic diversity of cancer which typically is its family tree. The method can aid doctors develop a personalised and effective therapy for cancer by highlighting the significant mutations.
A huge potential however lies in the identification of significant genomic alterations shared by several subclasses of the tumor irrespective of where it starts to grow in the body. All this information is essential for the efforts of developing more personalized therapies to help people with the disease. For instance, if a patient’s genetic fingerprint indicates that the tumor is likely to spread in other parts of the body as well, doctors can suggest a more aggressive approach of treatment timely than they would suggest for someone with a different tumor profile. DNA fingerprint information can also help identify if a drug is approved originally to use in one type of cancer, it might also be useful for treating other types as well. For instance, if a medication works for breast cancer it can also work for colon cancer of a similar DNA fingerprint.
Latest Methods for Cancer Therapy
Conventionally, cancer is being treated using chemotherapy and radio therapy, but these are very generic treatments. For treatments to become specialized for each patient a range of therapies will have to be invented in order to cover the entire cancer spectrum. Following are some latest therapies for the disease:
This treatment is developed recently which made a breakthrough as per the American Cancer Society. Targeted therapy is chemotherapy of a very specific type which aims specific characteristics of cancer cells which makes it different from regular cells, which leaves the healthy cells apart. Some medication of this therapy can switch off the chemical signals which signals the cancer cells to grow further and divide. Some other types of the therapy can halt the body from developing new blood vessels to nourish the cancer cells. Others can still carry out toxins to the cancer cells to kill them rather than healthy cells. This treatment has side effects different from conventional chemotherapy and is mostly used combined with some other treatments like surgery or radiation as well.
This is another latest breakthrough in cancer treatments which is also known as biologic therapy. It stimulates a body’s own immunity to become more efficient in attaching the cancerous cells. Human papilloma virus, HPV vaccine is also a type of immunotherapy which can help prevent against anal, cervical and throat cancers as per the American Cancer Society. The vaccine was licensed in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration.
Stem Cell Transplant
Some cancer types give best response to a high dose of chemotherapy which destroys the stem cells and stops red blood cell production by bone marrow. Stem cell transplant lets doctors make use of high dose of chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells. As per the U.S. National Library of Medicine, stem cell transplant has enabled latest cancer treatments in the past two decades like some solid tumors and lymphoma.
This is the use of high heat in controlled manner to destroy the cancer cells, and is a comparatively more experimental form of cancer treatment. The American Cancer Society has reported that it has shown promising outcomes in killing the cancer cells and stop their blood supply particularly for those patients who are unable to sustain the stresses of a surgery for their tumors.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
This therapy uses medication which makes the cancer cells more delicate towards light exposure before putting light from a concentrated source of either laser or red light, on the area which requires the treatment. This treatment is not yet available widely as it is relatively new, and the American Cancer Society has suggested that it has been showing promising results as being a breakthrough in cancer treatments particularly during surgical treatments where it acts as a way to prevent the replication of cancer in other large areas of the body like the abdominal region or lining of lungs.
This is a very precise type of cancer treatment which is made possible by the use of radiation therapy by the recent technological advancements. It has many pros over the conventional radiation therapy since it can deliver a much more intense dosage of radiation to the tumor while preventing damage to the healthy tissues in its surrounding. Proton therapy is yet another breakthrough in the cancer treatments for many type of cancers which includes breast, brain, eye, liver, neck, lung and prostate as per Mayo Clinic. The Clinic also tells that cancer prevalent in children can also be treated by it and kids can also benefit from the proton therapy as traditional radiation therapy can affect their other growing organs negatively.
This method involves the use of genetic testing to choose the best battered therapies and other relevant cancer treatments on the basis of specific genetic features of a certain tumor. The National Cancer Institute has told that there are multiple clinic trials which are underway to test the drugs for precision medication which target a particular genetic alteration in lung, breast or other types of cancers including certain kinds of melanoma and leukemia.
The NCI has also reported that there exist some types of prostate and breast cancers which require naturally produced hormones from within the body in order for them to nourish. The hormone therapy blocks such hormones from producing and also slows down or halts the growth of these specific cancer types and hence help prevent its replication. New hormone therapy medication classes as per the American Cancer Society are another discovery in the cancer treatment for those diagnosed with prostate or breast cancers.