Understanding the Differing Goals of Cancer Care
Cancer is a common disease that impacts nearly everyone, either directly or indirectly. In fact, estimates suggest that nearly 40% of all men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetimes. It’s understandable that conversations around such a widespread and devastating illness would center around “a cure.” However, it’s important to understand that cancer is not a single disease, but a highly complex set of diseases driven by innumerable, dynamic genetic alterations. While finding more effective treatments for specific cancers is imperative, so too is taking a multi-faceted approach to cancer care that is grounded in treating each patient with dignity and respect.
Preventive Cancer Care
As scientists gain a deeper understanding of the genetic underpinnings that cause cancer, they are also gaining insights into how some cancers may be prevented. It has long been understood that hereditary, environmental, and behavioral factors can influence the risk of cancer development. It will remain important for the medical community to educate the public about such risk factors. Additionally, better understanding of inherited, germline mutations can play a significant role in early detection of cancers in individuals at elevated risk.
Curative Cancer Care
When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the best course of action is to assemble an interdisciplinary team to develop a tailored treatment plan with the goal of completely eliminating the disease. This will start with the treatment most likely to succeed—known as the primary treatment. However, combination treatment plans are common. Additionally, a wide array of factors can impact a treatment’s efficacy, so a robust treatment plan will often include contingencies where possible.
Adjuvant Cancer Care
An adjuvant treatment is provided in addition to the primary treatment with the goal of maximizing efficacy in eradicating the tumor and preventing cancer from returning. For example, a patient may have a solid tumor removed surgically and receive follow-up treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or immunotherapy.
Palliative Cancer Care
Part of the goal of cancer care is to improve patients’ quality of life and alleviate the symptoms caused by their cancer or treatment. Palliative care can be administered along with treatments designed to cure or slow the progression of cancer and as an end-of-life measure when treatment options have been exhausted.
Improving Care for All Cancer Patients
Whether cancer care is preventive, curative, adjuvant, or palliative, improving it requires researchers to develop increasingly personalized treatments based on a greater understanding of the genetic factors that cause cancer and affect treatment responses. By providing robust clinical and genomic data along with custom bioinformatics services, M2GEN is empowering researchers to develop more effective and tailored precision treatments to benefit countless patients around the world. For more information, contact us today.