Five years used to be the magical mark cancer survivors hoped to reach. If your cancer didn’t return within five years of completing treatment, you could start to breathe a little easier and feel hopeful about the future. Improvements in cancer treatment, early screening and cancer prevention have pushed the boundary between fear and hope back another five years.
Half of all newly diagnosed cancer patients now survive for at least 10 years, according to Cancer Research UK. With longer survival rates, some researchers are suggesting that many forms of cancer should now be considered and treated as chronic, rather than fatal, diseases.
War on Cancer Reaches Tipping Point
“The reason this 50% figure is an important tipping point is that it’s saying that now half of all patients will survive at least 10 years after a diagnosis and for many it will be very much longer than that,” Dr. Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK told London’s Daily& Sunday Express. I think that does represent a change in the way we should be thinking about cancer.”
Integrative Medicine Changing Treatment
The integrative approach toward treating cancer that has slowly been replacing Western medicine’s traditional reliance on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may have much to do with the trend toward longer cancer survival rates. That has certainly been our experience at Issels Centers for Integrative Medicine in Tijuana, Mexico and Santa Barbara, California.
A leader in the field of integrative cancer treatments for more than 60 years, Issels’ cancer treatment teams have enjoyed unique success in the treatment of many forms of cancer using individualized immunotherapy. By integrating various alternative cancer treatments into our non-toxic immunobiologic core treatment program, Issels had been able to help many patients achieve complete long-term remission of their cancer.
It is unfortunate that Richard Howard did not discover the benefits of integrative cancer therapy until the final year of his 10-year battle with cancer. His family credits integrative therapies with the gains that allowed him to remain with his family a while longer and the increased feelings of comfort and well-being he experienced during his final year.
Mr. Howard’s daughter Sara, who encouraged her father to try integrative therapies, told the Litchfield (Connecticut) County Times, “I was like, ‘Dad, why not just try it?’ … I researched it and saw all the beneficial things it could do. He did and it was like, ‘Wow!’ and opening up this door for him to a whole other side of medicine.”
An engineer, Mr. Howard was at first skeptical of integrative therapies but was quickly won over by the increased comfort, sense of well-being and mobility he experienced following his first few alternative cancer therapies. The pilot program Mr. Howard participated in was limited to the integration of several Eastern medicine techniques such as acupuncture and massage; but a fully-developed, comprehensive integrative immunotherapy program can offer cancer patients a plethora of beneficial alternative cancer treatment options designed to support and enhance each other.
A new international study spearheaded by Spanish cancer researchers has developed a method of identifying people with a hereditary risk of cancer related to Lynch Syndrome, Science Dailyreports. While the focus of the study was limited to a specific hereditary condition known to increase cancer risk, researchers believe their findings may be applicable to other hereditary cancers.
Cancer develops within the body. Errors in normal DNA replication and other issues can cause genetic alterations or mutations that interfere with normal cell functioning and may lead to cancer. Some people, however, are born with a genetic mutation that predisposes them to a certain type of cancer. An estimated 5% to 10% of all cancer tumors are hereditary through predisposition.
An inherited colorectal disease, Lynch syndrome, also known as HNPCC (Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer), carries an increased risk of colon cancer and endometrial cancer. In a cooperative international effort to identify the genetic variants responsible for Lynch Syndrome, researchers around the world culled through data on thousands of genetic variants.
The significance of many of these variants is as yet unknown. However, it is hoped that consolidation of global research into a public database will allow researchers to translate data into useful clinical information, expanding our understanding of Lynch Syndrome and its genetic implications. The project is being funded and managed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Scientific Foundation of the Spanish Association Against Cancer.
Identifying the genetic variants responsible for hereditary cancers may help identify at-risk families, encourage early monitoring and preventive measures, inform targeted cancer therapies and provide affected families with useful genetic counseling in the hopes of minimizing cancer risk for future generations. Researchers believe that the process they are using with Lynch Syndrome could be applied to other hereditary cancer genes.