Day 215. Rethinking cancer

In March 2013 on March 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm


Cancer is in my family, and that’s not unusual.

My uncle  – oesophagus cancer. My maternal grandfather – lung and stomach cancer. My paternal grandmother – breast cancer.

By way of treatment, all of these family members had combinations of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, with varying degrees of success.

Now, new therapeutic options for cancer are slowly starting to open up. These stem from a change in the way that scientists understand and study cancers.

In the past it was all about knowing where the cancer started, and to which organs it spread. Now, although the tissue of origin is still important to know, it’s the actual details of which genes have gone wrong, and how they are controlling the abnormal growth of tumour cells that can be of greater importance for treatment.

As medical research continues, there’s a very strong possibility that new treatment options will even move cancer from being a ‘death-sentence disease’ to one which can be controlled and managed for the remainder of one’s life.

For an up-to-date explainer of what cancer is, and how we treat it now and in the future, see today’s Conversation article by Dr Darren Saunders.

[photo shows my father as a toddler with his extended family in Western Australia in 1946]


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