3 exciting new methods for fighting cancer
Amid myriad diseases and other health conditions, cancer is among the leading causes of death for men and women in the U.S. Per the National Cancer Institute's estimates, 2016 will see an astounding 1,685,210 new cases of cancer. Of those individuals, 585,690 will eventually die from the cancer.
While that may seem bad news, there is one noticeable silver lining: Death rates for many forms are cancer are already on the decline, according t the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Part of that is the ongoing development of new and innovative treatment options, which use groundbreaking science to give patients a better chance of survival.
Here are three such exciting breakthroughs in the fight against cancer:
"In 2016, there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer."
- Beating cancer via microwaves
Microwave technology has existed for a long time, but as The Daily Mail reported, a group of scientists from The University of Texas at Arlington have used the technology for a novel purpose: to fighting off cancer tumors. The new technique sees microwave usage combined with photodynamic therapy, a technique previously used to treat skin and surface-level cancers.
The new approach applies the light waves and microwaves directly to the tumor, which activates certain photosensitive nanoparticles that kill the tumor via overheating. The Texas team has already treated several samples of cancer in the laboratory setting, resulting in significant reduction of tumors. With added research, the scientists believe this use of microwaves could become a key role in the development and implementation of several unique forms of cancer treatment.
- The genetic approach
While the Texas research collective opted for microwaves, another set of scientists from the Mainz University Medical Center are working on gene modification to defeat an aggressive form of leukemia. The technique, outlined in a recent edition of the journal Cancer Discovery, is geared toward treating acute myeloid leukemia, an umbrella term for several conditions that attack red blood cells. Specifically, the AML cancer uses these blood cells to self-replicate almost indefinitely.
To impede that process, the scientists from Mainz developed a special drug treatment that counters the cancer genes' ability to replicate; in turn, the leukemia cells will actually transform back into normal blood cells. There was plenty of laboratory data to back up the genetic approach, but the team did warn that this field (cancer epigenetics) is still in its infancy.
- Lessening surgical impact
Similar to photodynamic therapy, surgery has long been a method for treating cancer. However, as with any other procedure, there are certain risks involved. As a means of streamlining this surgical approach, a team from the University of Washington, Seattle found that minimally invasive surgery (MIS) can be effective in combating liver cancer. The technique makes use of several small incisions, which a surgeon enters and, using a camera, can remove the liver tumors with little outside harm.
The team, who presented their findings at the 2016 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, also noted that MIS can lower blood loss and cut recovery times by up to half in some cases. The only downside to MIS, though, is that it's not always an option at many hospitals and treatment centers. However, it could become common place following the Seattle team's efforts.