Potential Advances in Cancer Treatment

Posted on: 6 March 2017

Each year, about 454 out of every 100,000 people develop cancer, and about 171 out of every 100,000 people die from cancer, which means almost 40 percent of people will develop cancer at some time during their lives. This makes it very important to develop new treatments to help limit the mortality rate from cancer. Thankfully, scientists are stepping up to the plate and coming up with newer and better ways to treat cancer, including combining new approaches with older treatments.

Checkpoint Inhibitors

One problem that has come up when trying to treat cancer is that some cancer cells appeared to be able to hide from or fight off the immune cells that target them. New medications are now being developed to help turn off the proteins in the cancerous cells that are responsible for this effect. These are called checkpoint inhibitors. Research shows that these medications may be able to limit the progression of cancer and the risk of death by as much as 50 percent in some cases.

Personalized Cancer Treatment

Another type of cancer treatment being developed is more personalized. It attempts to address the fact that cancer cells mutate so quickly and that one person has a wide variety of different, mutated versions of the cancer cells in their body at any given time.

It turns out that there tends to be some mutations that are common in many of the cancer cells in any one individual, and these mutations can be targeted to help treat the cancer. This can occur in two ways: developing vaccines that target the mutation, and multiplying the T-cells that fight these mutations in a lab to inject back into the patient.

The main limitations to this type of treatment are the high cost and the length of time it takes to locate the right mutations and then come up with the right vaccines and T-cells to target for the treatment.


One of the more talked about recent advances in cancer treatment is immunotherapy. The key to this treatment is determining which antigens on cancerous cells are most common, despite the many mutations the cells go through, and then figuring out the immune cells that can recognize these antigens as being dangerous. These immune cells can then be used to target the tumors.

However, the use of a checkpoint inhibitor may be necessary for the therapy to work, as sometimes the tumors are able to send signals that keep the immune cells from acting and destroying the tumor. Using the antigens shared by all cancer cells works better than using the antigens present on only some cells, as otherwise some cancer cells will be left behind and could multiply and cause the tumor to regrow.

For more information about these and other breakthrough cancer treatment, check out http://swoncology.net/.