Who wouldn’t want cancer to be cured?
Cancer is a big cause of death globally. In fact, it is the second most common cause of death after cardiac diseases.
Although we enjoy many technological advances, we’ve not been able to keep this monster at bay.
But there is hope. Scientists haven’t given up on the pursuit of a cure.
Cancer in itself is pretty invasive and works in a way that your immune system is not able to fight it. This has caused a lot of fear among the public who can only try prevent it through detoxifying foods.
A cancer diagnosis is even taken to be more of a death sentence. And with the CDC projecting cancer deaths to increase into 2020, the outlook is not very good.
It becomes a case of waiting for your appointed time.
The loss and grief caused is so much and yet more cases are being reported daily with deaths similarly recorded.
- 1 COMMON TYPES OF CANCERS
- 1.1 1. Breast Cancer
- 1.2 2. Lung Cancer (Including Bronchus)
- 1.3 3. Prostate Cancer
- 1.4 4. Colon and Rectal Cancer
- 1.5 5. Melanoma
- 1.6 6. Bladder Cancer
- 1.7 7. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- 1.8 8. Kidney (Renal Cell and Renal Pelvis) Cancer
- 1.9 9. Endometrial Cancer
- 1.10 10. Leukemia (All Types)
- 1.11 11. Pancreatic Cancer
- 1.12 12. Thyroid Cancer
- 1.13 13. Liver and Intrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer
- 2 COMMON CANCER TREATMENTS AND THEIR DOWNSIDES
- 3 WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CANCER TREATMENT?
- 4 CONCLUSION
COMMON TYPES OF CANCERS
There are many types of cancers but some are more common than others.
This American Cancer Society study recognized at least 13 types of cancers which have records of over 40,000 annual cases as of 2018. The numbers are shocking and can only increase the hope for a cure.
Here is the list in the order of highest estimated new cases to the lowest. For each type, we have also included the estimated annual deaths.
1. Breast Cancer
This cancer is the most common, probably because it affects both men and women in a big way. The estimated new cases for men is 2,670 while that of women is over 100 times that number.
Estimated new cases of women diagnosed with breast cancer stands at 268,600.
When it comes to deaths, the number of men is 500 and that of women is 41,760.
2. Lung Cancer (Including Bronchus)
Lung cancer has claimed many victims. It is rated as the most deadly cancer.
This is largely a result of smoking.
Though smoking is considered a lifestyle by many, addictions are quite common. This means that the lifestyle can become uncontrollable.
The estimated new cases are 228,150 while deaths are 142,670.
Avoiding smoking is the best way to reduce these figures.
3. Prostate Cancer
This cancer type affects men and is the most common among them. In most cases, it starts and remains in the prostate gland.
In some cases however, it can be aggressive and spread to other parts of the body.
Prostate cancer is common among older men. Symptoms include trouble urinating, decreased force in the stream of urine and discomfort in the pelvic area.
Estimated new cases are 164,690 while deaths are 29,430.
4. Colon and Rectal Cancer
These two cancers are often referred to as colorectal cancer.
Symptoms to look out for include diarrhea or constipation, blood in feces making stool look black, pain and bloating in the abdomen etc.
Estimates for new cases are 145,600 while deaths are 51,020.
This is the cancer which develops on the skin. It’s also known as skin cancer.
This cancer occurs when melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in your skin mutate.
The main risk factor for melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun or tanning beds.
Estimates for new cases are 96,480 with deaths standing at 7,230.
6. Bladder Cancer
Like prostate cancer, bladder cancer is more common in men though it can also occur in women. The cancer develops on the inner lining of the bladder wall.
Some symptoms of bladder cancer to look out for include blood in urine, feeling an urge to urinate but producing no urine, pain during urination etc.
These symptoms can however be caused by other conditions too.
You will have to get checked by a doctor to confirm the real cause so you can get the right treatment.
Estimated new cases are 80,470 and deaths are 17,670.
7. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
This cancer starts in the white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma, as it is also called, can start anywhere there are lymph tissues. These could include lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils and bone marrow.
Estimated new cases are 74,200 with deaths being 19,970.
8. Kidney (Renal Cell and Renal Pelvis) Cancer
These two cancer types combined have estimated new cases of 73,820 and deaths of 14,770.
The main risk factors include cigarette smoking, obesity, exposure to certain chemicals like asbestos, benzene and organic solvents etc.
Some of the symptoms of kidney cancer include loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, unexpected weight loss etc.
9. Endometrial Cancer
This is cancer that begins in the uterus lining. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding after menopause and bleeding between periods and pelvic pain.
Risk factors of endometrial cancer include starting menstruation early (before age 12) or starting menopause later, obesity and breast cancer hormone therapy.
Estimated new cases are 61,880 and deaths are 12,160.
10. Leukemia (All Types)
Leukemia is the cancer which starts in the bone marrow where blood is formed.
Leukemia risk factors include hair dyes, smoking, artificial ionizing radiation, benzene and some petrochemicals.
Estimated new cases are 61,780 and deaths are 22,840.
11. Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer affects your pancreas, the organ responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. It can be easily ignored since the symptoms can be vague and assumed to be caused by other conditions.
To be safe, if you experience these symptoms, get yourself checked. It could be pancreatic cancer. The symptoms include bloating, indigestion, unexpected weight loss, yellow skin and eyes etc.
Estimated new cases are 56,770 and deaths are 45,750.
12. Thyroid Cancer
This is cancer affecting the thyroid.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer may include a lump in front of the neck, difficulty swallowing, pain in the throat, and a persistent cough not caused by a cold.
Estimated new cases are 52,070 and deaths are 2,170.
13. Liver and Intrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer
Of the 13 cancer types in focus here, liver cancer is the least common. But the numbers are still big.
Estimated new cases are 42,030 and deaths are 31,780.
Symptoms of liver cancer may include unintended weight loss, upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal swelling etc.
More often than not, these cancers develop without you knowing what is going on in your body.
Unfortunately, the later the cancer is diagnosed, the less the chances of effectively treating it. If discovered early, the chances of a successful treatment are increased.
You may have heard of different stages of cancer. One of the common labels of the stages uses numbers.
Stage 1 is the stage when the cancer is just getting started. This can only be discovered during early cancer screening.
The more the cells continue growing and spreading to other areas, the worse the situation becomes.
A stage 4 cancer is one which has grown to the point of requiring quick medical intervention.
But treatment is still possible and works well to reduce the symptoms.
In some cases, the cancer may be completely cured while in some, it has been reported to recur.
This happens because of the shortcomings of the various treatment methods.
COMMON CANCER TREATMENTS AND THEIR DOWNSIDES
No cancer treatment method is 100% effective.
Moreover, none of them is without side effects.
This is why there is a constant search for treatment which will be better than what is currently available.
Before we look at the solution that promises to cure cancer completely, let’s look at the shortcomings of some current treatments.
This information will also help you know which option is better for you given your condition.
All the same, your doctor will advise you on the various treatment options available for your specific case.
You are to discuss with him and ask as many questions as you need to so that you make the right choice of treatment option.
This is one of the most common treatment methods used to treat cancer. It involves the use of chemical substances in the form of medicine to treat the tumors.
Some of the challenges which come with chemotherapy are:
1. Expensive – chemotherapy medicine is not cheap. And when you consider the patients with low income, it becomes even more challenging. With high cost being a factor, many will struggle and even die for lack of treatment.
2. Slow – chemotherapy drugs do not kill the cancer cells at once. This takes time and as the time lapses, checks and scans are necessary to monitor the progress. Since the disease is itself a burden to bear, the long duration of treatment can also add to the emotional burden being borne.
3. Possible Cancer Recurrence – one of the biggest challenges to the cancer treatment research is the fact that cancer cells mutate quite quickly and effectively. The cells, once targeted by the medicine, change their nature to avoid further destruction.
Although chemo has recorded good treatment results, once mutations take place, the drugs become quite useless. Though it might have appeared as though the cancer is gone, it can re-emerge after some time.
4. Side Effects – the side effects of chemo are not new to the treatment as many drugs have side effects. For chemo though, the side effects can be a big challenge especially for daily life. For instance, the side effect of hair loss can really affect a woman.
It might end up leading to anxiety or depression. However, support networks and doctors can help with counseling.
Radiotherapy is another common treatment method against cancer. Instead of using drugs, it uses radio waves to reach the cancer cells and destroy them.
This is usually done through a radiotherapy machine.
This is a big machine which directs radio waves to the affected area and targets the cancer cells underneath the skin.
Here’s a video showing how radiotherapy is used to treat prostate cancer.
There are two main ways of using radiotherapy.
One is using an external device which beams the waves into the body. This is an external method and is also referred to as External Beam Radiation Therapy.
The other method is internal, also called Brachytherapy.
This involves the insertion of a radioactive material inside your body. It may be on top of the cancer or next to it.
This material will emit radio waves that will kill the cancer cells and thereby shrink the tumor.
Radiotherapy, like chemo, has good results. But it also has some disadvantages worth noting.
1. May not be completely effective – this is because radiotherapy depends on imaging scans to locate cancer cells. If these cells are not visible through scans, they will not be included in the planned treatment. That means they will not be targeted by the treatment, thus remaining untreated.
2. May harm surrounding healthy cells – since the radio waves are emitted on the body, the tissues surrounding the cancer cells can be harmed by the waves. When the dosage is high, this becomes a bigger challenge.
3. Side effects – these can range from fatigue and sore skin to the development of a new cancer caused by the radiation therapy. Although a second cancer is rare, the possibility exists, especially where high doses of radio waves are used.
Another treatment option is surgery. Though not as common as chemo and radiotherapy, it’s still worth considering. It also has its own advantages.
If the cancer is discovered early before it starts spreading, surgery can be a good treatment option. It will involve taking out the body tissues affected by the cancer cells.
There is however one big challenge when it comes to surgery.
Since cancer cells divide and spread, they may have affected the surrounding tissues. Aware of this, surgeons usually remove the tumor and some surrounding tissues.
The tissue will be examined to find out if it has cancer cells. If it does, then you may be scheduled for another operation to remove more tissue.
This may not always be practically possible given the spreading nature of cancer cells.
This challenge exists because before the operation, it’s often impossible to tell the extent of the cancer.
As such, the surgeon might start the operation only to discover that the surgery won’t be able to completely remove the cancer. In such cases, together with his team, you will discuss the best treatment option.
This method of cancer treatment involves your body’s immune system.
Since your immune system is the natural protector against harm, immunotherapy seeks to make use of it to stop cancer.
Immunotherapy drugs will be administered to help your immune system work harder.
The drugs will also make it easier to find and fight the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy has been shown to work well against skin cancer while also aiding other treatments like chemotherapy.
Unlike chemo, immunotherapy has fewer side effects since it doesn’t directly target any cells.
Its sole target is your immune system. Another advantage of using immunotherapy is its ability to keep cancer from returning.
But that doesn’t mean it has no disadvantages.
You can experience swelling, itching and soreness in the area where the medication goes into your body.
You’ll also have to contend with some side effects. This can range from weight gain, flu, fatigue, heart palpitation and diarrhea.
Other side effects include the possibility of your revved up immune system attacking other body organs like kidneys, lungs or intestines.
Also, this treatment may take a long time to work compared with other methods.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CANCER TREATMENT?
Despite all the shortcomings evident in these treatment methods, many patients have received the much-needed relief. As such, we cannot disregard these. They still remain to be great options.
All the same, can we have better?
There are many studies being conducted hoping to discover better ways of treating this disease. Many of these studies propose ingenious ways of doing it.
In one study, a common cold virus treated bladder cancer. In another, dead cells were used to fight cancer.
These are great ideas which are still being subjected to more research.
The Israeli Solution
But while this is going on, a team of scientists from Israel have a revolutionary solution. Theirs promises to take the world of medicine by storm.
And quite literally, just the news about their progress took the medical world by storm.
When Dan Aridor of Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi) announced what his company was doing, researchers didn’t seem to believe it.
They can’t develop a cure for cancer in such a short period of time and with very little peer-approved tests.
It happens that AEBi was founded in 2000 in an Israeli incubator. As with many other startups, it started as an idea. The idea was based on what scientists already knew – the phage display technology.
This is a drug discovery and development technique which has gained lots of interest in medical research. It’s being pursued as a promising way of developing medicine for diseases.
Here is a video describing how the phage display technology works.
This technique has been used to produce antibodies. AEBi is however using it to produce peptides—compounds of amino acids linked in a chain.
According to Ilan Morad, the founder and CEO of AEBi, peptides have unique advantages over antibodies. They are smaller, cheaper, and easier to produce and regulate.
AEBi’s treatment, which is called MuTaTo (Multi-Target Toxin), is said to be a cancer antibiotic.
MuTaTo works by seeking out cancer cells, binding to them and destroying them before they mutate.
In comparison to other cancer-treating drugs, Dan Aridor said in an article by The Jerusalem Post that MuTaTo will be effective from day one and will only last a few weeks.
More than that, the treatment will have little or no side-effects and will cost much lower than current treatments.
As reported by Live Science, many cancer researchers do not agree with the claims.
As much as the technical working of the technique makes sense, they don’t think there has been enough research on it.
According to them, these are largely unsubstantiated facts.
But are they?
Cancer research has been going on for a long time and many studies have to be done before treatment is approved and adopted. In that regard, AEBi could be a long way to curing cancer.
However, it’s for a good reason that Israel is known to be the “startup nation.”
The country is just 70 years old but has given the world so much. The inventions coming from Israel are simply unmatched.
Yes, the claim by AEBi might sound futuristic. But anyone who knows something about Israeli invention capabilities will tell you that this is worth waiting for.
In any case, who wouldn’t want cancer to be cured soonest?