Time is one of the most significant factors when it comes to the treatment of cancer, the second most common cause of death, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From the day cancer is diagnosed to the first day of treatment, days and even weeks may pass as doctors gather to discuss treatment plans and order testing to collect as much information as they can. But as the new decade arrives, it brings about several technological advancements and treatments that may buy more time for the ones who need it the most.
Because of its highly complex biology, cancer has been difficult to cure with medication or injections. As new treatments like immunotherapy go through further research, health systems are starting to leverage data-sharing and artificial intelligence technology to predict a patient’s prognosis better and determine the most effective treatment plan for their cancer based on other patients with a similar medical history.
Here are some potential treatment methods that show promise in the cancer treatment landscape:
1. Precise Treatments:
Researchers expect widespread use of precision cancer medicine, which is using cancer’s molecular profile to figure out the best therapy approach for individual patients, such as single-targeted therapies or a combination. The treatment will apply to most solid tumors, such as tumors in the breast, colon, lung, and ovaries. Consequently, conventional chemotherapy will be used less frequently. Precision medicine also includes collecting substantial data entries on individuals and populations and integrating that data to predict better, prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.
2. Effective Approaches:
In the future, fundamental knowledge about using immunotherapy in cancer treatment will provide scientists with a much better understanding of why some patients respond to this treatment while others don’t. This data will directly affect how treatment decisions are made. These sources will provide more information to build strategies for improving immunotherapy’s effectiveness in more patients and various types of cancers.
It may become possible to draw a patient’s blood and know exactly why their immune system is not keeping their cancer within control. Armed with this kind of knowledge, the doctors will be able to create personalized treatment regimens that include combinations and diverse mix of drugs designed to counter whatever is restricting the immune system from attacking the tumor.
These treatments will be more productive and more widely used across hematological cancers as well as solid tumors. Research and engineering techniques will allow for the development of either autologous (coming from the patient) or off-the-shelf (mass-produced) T cells that can recognize various targets on cancer cells, making them more centered on cancer and thus reducing damage to healthy cells. Advancements in gene engineering will also enable the inclusion of “safety switches” that allow cancer specialists to regulate the rate of T-cell expansion or deactivate T-cells completely when they have completed the job of eliminating cancer cells. This also will reduce T-cell treatment’s toxicity and side effects while maintaining its ability to attack cancer cells.
3. Earlier Detection:
Advanced single-cell (or smaller number of cells) and single-molecule (or lower number of molecules) data will give lead to improved diagnostics, prognostics, treatment stratification, and more precise entry into clinical trials leading to novel and improved therapies. Recent developments help to detect tumor cells and tumor DNA in patients’ blood, known as a “liquid biopsy,” without the need for invasive procedures such as surgery. Through simple blood draw, tumors are being detected and specific mutations recognized. Today, this technology is assisting in monitoring treatment, mainly calculating if treatment is reducing tumor burden, without the need for tumor imaging or any other tests. These advances will likely provide more improved diagnostics as well as early detection for cancer, or possibly even new prevention strategies.
Studies show promise for the dependency of specific biomarkers, which are found in the blood-such as PSA- in calculating if a patient has a recurrence of cancer at its early stages, while other markers show promise for detecting cancers before any symptoms are detected. While blood tests for early cancer detection are commonly used in the research landscape, researchers foresee a day when they will be delivered as point-of-care tests and be available in doctor’s offices on a routine basis.
Researchers expect bio-marker data to be part of a physical routine. By taking a basicreading of a person’s biomarker level through a blood test, oncologists will be able to detect variations to these levels, indicating that cancer may be developing, helping doctors effectively catch it before stage one. Consequently, physicians will be able to diagnose and treat disease earlier.
4. Artificial Intelligence Applications
Digital pathology, which entails developing digital images from glass slides, will advance cancer care by developing artificial intelligence algorithms. Recent developments, empowered by technical innovations in computer science, have allowed the analysis of data from digital images, advancing pathologist’s ability to more accurately, more safely, with more excellent quality, provide additional information related to the biologic behavior of many abnormal growths.
Scientists also predict better forecasting growth rates, metastatic potential, and even where cancer might evolve. The inclusion of artificial intelligence in the pathologist’s toolbox also shows promise for clinical trials; improved patient selection will better define appropriate treatments and improve the approval of pharmaceuticals by detecting the patient's count most likely to respond. Finally, digital images, combined with artificial intelligence, will play an essential role in the research, development, and implementation of immunotherapy.
5. Drug Development
Biomarkers will transform the way pharmaceutical companies develop drugs, especially for oncology. There’s evidence of a growing openness towards leveraging biomarkers for drug development as a complement to symptomatic clinical points, which are measured in clinical research to see if a drug is effective, with guidance from researchers and oncologists that biomarkers show promise as a reliable weapon for advancing clinical trials. By making use of biomarkers, researchers can see a drug’s effect on the body long before traditional symptomatic or imaging could detect the drug’s effect.
6. Better Personalized Cancer Vaccines
Cancer vaccines will become a significant part of patients’ treatment routines, especially vaccines that provide the immune system with cancer targets that are specialized to an individual patient’s tumors. These targets are called neoantigens. Neoantigens have shown to stimulate anti-cancer immune responses in cancer patients and show great potential as treatment targets. Advancements in computerized predictions of neoantigen expression will allow the doctors to create personalized vaccines that force the immune system to look out for and destroy unique antigens that are likely to be visible in patients’ tumors. Vaccinations will be given in combination with other immunotherapies created to overcome immune suppression at the site and facilitate a targeted immune response.