There were many exciting developments in cancer research and care in 2017, including advances in immunotherapy, precision medicine, and prevention. David Spigel, MD, Chief Scientific Officer; Director of Lung Cancer Research Program at Sarah Cannon, HCA’s global cancer institute, recently discussed on Fox & Friends innovations made in the past year, and what is on the horizon in cancer research in 2018.
Immunotherapy, which boosts the body’s own immune system to detect and fight cancer, will continue to be an exciting area of research and treatment in the upcoming years. Immunotherapies are available for multiple cancers including lung cancer, colon cancer, lymphoma, and head and neck cancer, and are continuing to be studied across multiple tumor sites.
With precision medicine, the idea is to try to get into the cancer at the genetic level and understand exactly what drives growth of the tumor. Patients receive therapies, often oral, which target those genetic switches (mutations, alterations) and turn them off. It is a very precise and personalized way of treating cancer.
Researchers continue to look at new methods for screening, including ways to detect cancer earlier. This is not only the case in breast cancer, but in lung cancer and colon cancer as well. One big question being researched is “Can blood testing be used to find cancer earlier?”
Self DNA tests are not focused right now on predicting if someone has cancer. However, there is the possibility for that to become the trend as researchers work to identify genetic signals that drive cancer development and growth. There will be many things to consider when interpreting the data, and a healthcare team will need to be at the center of this with the patient.
There have been advances in strategies surrounding lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise; however, it’s still too early to know if a certain diet or certain form of exercise will prevent a certain type of cancer. However, healthy lifestyle habits are good for one’s overall health.
Learn more from Dr. Spigel’s interview on Fox & Friends below. (HCA internal audience can view the video here.)