A diagnosis of cancer is never good news but new patients might perhaps take some comfort in the fact that, not only do we have world-class cancer treatment and support in the UK but our country is also home to some of the best cancer research.
New cancer treatment advances are announced every year, treatments that can bring relief and an extended prognosis to those with cancers that have been previously difficult or impossible to treat. With so much good cancer treatment news out there, it can be difficult to take it all in. We have summarised some of the key cancer treatment advances for 2019.
Prostate cancer treatment news
In the UK there are over 47,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed each year and this particular cancer makes up 26% of all new male cancer cases. Trials, at the Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, of a state-of-the-art immunotherapy have shown that it can be used to target advanced and previously untreatable prostate cancers in a certain set of men. This treatment is most likely to be effective for men whose tumours contain specific DNA repair mutations but it has also shown to have a positive result for men who have not had success with a range of other possible treatments.
During 2019 Prostate Cancer UK will continue their recently launched precision medicine research programme, which sets out to help with the tailoring of treatments based on the make-up of different prostate cancers. It is predicted that each year the lives of over 9,000 UK men with advanced prostate cancer could be extended. Individual approaches to incurable prostate cancer, similar to those offered to women with incurable breast cancer, are not yet available and this study aims to correct that balance.
Proton beam therapy treatment advances
Traditional radiotherapy uses x-rays to destroy cancer cells and is effective but can cause damage to surrounding tissues. High-energy proton beam therapy is an advanced treatment that can precisely direct beams where they are required. The availability of this treatment is particularly relevant to younger patients, whose tissues are more sensitive to radiation, and to those whose tumours are located near to vital areas of the body, for example at the base of the skull. Until recently, patients requiring high-energy proton beam therapy have had to travel to Switzerland or the USA, treatment can now be made both easier and safer by the 2018 opening of the high-energy proton beam therapy centre at The Christie Hospital in Manchester and the plans for the opening of a London centre in 2020.
Breast cancer treatment advances
A new targeted therapy drug has been shown to halt the growth of cancer cells in women with breast cancers that have been found at an early stage. For UK women, breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death and almost 55,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Researchers at the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research were pleased to announce the cancer treatment news that the drug, palbociclib, when given in conjunction with hormone therapy, had significant impact and stopped tumour growth in 90% of women with early stage breast cancer. Longer clinical trials are planned to find out whether or not this drug, when given alongside hormone therapy, can delay the return of breast cancer.
Treatment news for lung cancer
Adenocarcinoma, the largest subtype of lung cancer, has to date had no known specific treatment. However, research led by the University of Glasgow has shown that growth in types of adenocarcinoma that carry the mutant KRAS gene, could be repressed by the use of a particular second-generation EGFR inhibitor, when used in conjunction with trametinib, another cancer drug.
Strategies to limit drug delivery to tumour sites and thus reduce unwanted side effects are being developed and further research is planned. Lung cancer is currently the 3rd most common UK cancer and accounts for 13% of male and 12% of female new cancer cases. In 2016 the UK saw over 35,000 deaths from lung cancer, which makes up 21% of total UK cancer deaths.
Treatment breakthrough for brain cancer
One of the common and particularly aggressive forms of brain cancer is glioblastoma. This cancer is England’s most common type of malignant brain tumour and has a very poor prognosis. Traditional treatment for glioblastoma includes surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy but these seldom stop the cancer returning and quickly spreading.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina are developing a pioneering new treatment, which uses human stem cells, created from human skin cells, to carry therapeutic agents and find and destroy brain cancer, thus significantly increasing survival times. Although clinical trials for this breakthrough treatment are still one or two years away, big steps have been made and great things are expected.
As cancer research continues, more and more advanced and effective treatments are opening up to cancer patients in the UK. However, radiotherapy, with its related side effects, remains one of the most common forms of cancer treatment. If you are experiencing skin discomfort following radiotherapy treatment for any type of cancer, our cooling and soothing R1 and R2 gels can help. Applied as directed, these can sooth and repair damaged skin making your progress through radiotherapy treatment easier.