Thursday February 27, 2020

Good News for Cancer Patients, Treatments to be Less Invasive

Many people have some combination of chemo, radiation and surgery

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cancer research
Several expert doctors from India, the US, the UK and specialists in the area of Computer Science from India participated in the panel discussions and presentations. Pixabay

There’s good news for cancer patients: Treatments are becoming less invasive and taking less time.

Traditional treatments often include chemotherapy or radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The treatments kill healthy cells as well as cancerous ones, and the side effects are legendary.

Surgery can be an option, too. Sometimes it’s all that’s needed, but many people have some combination of chemo, radiation and surgery. These treatments can span months, and patients have months more of recovery time.

Cancer treatment is now moving toward precision medicine that targets just the cancer.

 Cancer, Patients, Invasive
There’s good news for cancer patients: Treatments are becoming less invasive and taking less time. Pixabay

For example, doctors are using focused radiation, after a lumpectomy, for women who have early stage breast cancer. With this procedure, radiation beams pinpoint the tumor from hundreds of different angles for a short period of time. Each beam itself is weak, but together, when they hit the tumor, the result is a higher dose of radiation.

Just five days

Dr. Julia White at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found focused radiation has the same positive results as full breast radiation. Plus, the partial radiation takes only five days.

White said, “The short five-day treatment is just as good as the whole breast irradiation [that lasts] for four to six weeks.”

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Other treatments use the body’s own immune system. Dr. William Nelson at Johns Hopkins Medicine told VOA it’s clear that the immune system sees cancer cells as abnormal, “and if we unleash the immune system, it can attack and destroy the cancer cells.”

The American Cancer Society says immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some cancers, and that newer types of immune treatments, currently being studied, will affect how we treat cancer in the future.

Still another new treatment, genomic testing, involves testing the cancer cells to determine their genetic makeup.

Most cancers start because of genetic mutations, and each patient’s cancer is unique, just like his or her DNA. If doctors know the particular DNA, they can prescribe medicine that targets the mutated cells. Healthy cells are left alone.

 Cancer, Patients, Invasive
Traditional treatments often include chemotherapy or radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Pixabay

Dr. Marcia Brose at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania specializes in this type of treatment. In a Skype interview with VOA, she said genomic testing and precision medicine targets cancer cells “at the very core of what made them a cancer to begin with, and that’s what precision medicine is really about.”

Few side effects

Brose said few patients have any side effects. If they do, she lowers the dose of the medication. It eliminates the side effect, and the treatment is still effective.

Because genomic testing is costly, Brose said, the biggest impact right now is for patients whose cancer keeps returning or spreads to other parts of the body. She doesn’t see it yet as a first-line treatment. But the results are outstanding.

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Brose recalled treating a woman with a rare type of cancer called sarcoma. When they met, the patient was in a wheelchair and on oxygen. Brose said that three years after treatment, the woman is hiking with her kids.

Brose said that patients whose cancers aren’t responding to treatment should ask their doctors about genomic testing. It isn’t for everyone, but Brose and other cancer specialists think targeted therapy, immunotherapy or genomic testing and precision medicine are the future of cancer treatment. And one day, it will be the standard treatment worldwide. (VOA)

Next Story

New Wearable Sensor Can Detect Critical Changes in Heart Failure Patients

Wearable sensor to predict worsening heart failure

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Wearable sensor heart
A new wearable sensor could help doctors remotely detect critical changes in heart failure patients days before a health crisis occurs. Pixabay

A new wearable sensor that works in conjunction with artificial intelligence (AI) technology could help doctors remotely detect critical changes in heart failure patients days before a health crisis occurs, says a study. This is the latest health news.

The researchers said the system could eventually help avert up to one in three heart failure readmissions in the weeks following initial discharge from the hospital and help patients sustain a better quality of life.

“This study shows that we can accurately predict the likelihood of hospitalisation for heart failure deterioration well before doctors and patients know that something is wrong,” says the study’s lead author Josef Stehlik from University of Utah in the US.

“Being able to readily detect changes in the heart sufficiently early will allow physicians to initiate prompt interventions that could prevent rehospitalisation and stave off worsening heart failure,” Stehlik added.

According to the researchers, even if patients survive, they have poor functional capacity, poor exercise tolerance and low quality of life after hospitalisations. “This patch, this new diagnostic tool, could potentially help us prevent hospitalizations and decline in patient status,” Stehlik said.

Wearable sensor heart
The sensor can help avert up to one in three heart failure readmissions in the weeks following initial discharge from the hospital and help patients sustain a better quality of life. Pixabay

For the findings, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, the researchers followed 100 heart failure patients, average age 68, who were diagnosed and treated at four veterans administration (VA) hospitals in Utah, Texas, California, and Florida.

After discharge, participants wore an adhesive sensor patch on their chests 24 hours a day for up to three months. The sensor monitored continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) and motion of each subject.

This information was transmitted from the sensor via Bluetooth to a smartphone and then passed on to an analytics platform, developed by PhysIQ, on a secure server, which derived heart rate, heart rhythm, respiratory rate, walking, sleep, body posture and other normal activities.

Using artificial intelligence, the analytics established a normal baseline for each patient. When the data deviated from normal, the platform generated an indication that the patient’s heart failure was getting worse.

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Overall, the system accurately predicted the impending need for hospitalization more than 80 per cent of the time. On average, this prediction occurred 10.4 days before a readmission took place (median 6.5 days), the study said. (IANS)