Chemotherapy was once a front-line tool that doctors used to combat various forms of cancer. Many patients who have successfully driven their disease into remission once used this treatment option to achieve success.
Chemotherapy was once a revolutionary idea. As research into the new cancer treatments progresses, medical sciences are finding that there are less toxic ways to drive cancer into remission for patients around the world.
New drugs and therapies are coming to the market in 2019 and beyond that target cancer just like chemotherapy did. There’s only one difference with these new treatments: they don’t destroy healthy cells in the same way.
A “New Normal” for Cancer Therapy
Decades of research into various cancers has given doctors and scientists a better understanding of how this devastating disease works. We are opening new doors that are leading to safer and better medicines.
This research has begun to make its way onto the treatment plans of patients who receive a new diagnosis of cancer.
The landscape of options that goes beyond chemotherapy includes targeted therapies like dabrafenib and Imbuvica, treating mutations of the BRAF gene.
Herceptin treats people with the HER2 gene mutation when breast cancer develops.
Gilotrif and Erbitux block EGFR, which acts as fuel for specific colorectal and lung cancers.
There are new classes of drugs which are changing the status quo for chemotherapy too. Checkpoint inhibitors, immunotherapies, gene therapy, and bispecifics all offer promising results.
This research has even led to vaccines that can help prevent specific cancers, natural killer cell treatments, and chimeric antigen receptor therapies. Some are already approved, while others are in the clinical trial stage.
What Is the Future of Chemotherapy?
Although chemotherapy is still a common way to treat several cancers, the writing is on the wall. New treatment options are coming, and this will help patients fight this disease without the debilitating side effects that chemo often brings.
This process will not happen overnight. There are still cancers for which chemotherapy is curative. The future of medicine will likely include the new classes of drugs and targeted chemo treatments to encourage higher survival rates for all cancers.
There is a darker side to chemotherapy that we must remember too. It often demands a tremendous emotional and physical cost that can negatively impact the quality of life for a patient and their family.
The side effects of chemotherapy, which can occur during or after treatment, are often challenging to endure. Even though there are medications which reduce the nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that happen when fighting cancer, it still takes a toll on everyone involved.
Chemotherapy can also cause organ damage, or have secondary cancers which appear later in life, that these new treatments may be able to prevent.
Chemotherapy is not going away anytime soon. The positive impact it has me on cancer treatments over the past decades cannot be ignored.
We must also look to the future with the numerous new drugs and treatments that target specific cancers. Survival rates will continue to climb thanks to the research and development work that the world supports every day.