by David Palma, MD, PhD
I’m a radiation oncologist, a type of doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer. Radiation is a very useful treatment – in many cases, it’s part of a treatment package aimed at curing a cancer. But even when a cancer cannot be cured, radiation can be useful to improve symptoms related to the cancer, like pain or shortness of breath.
by Clarissa Schilstra Living with Cancer
I was diagnosed with leukemia the first time when I was two and a half years old, successfully completed that treatment, and lived a healthy life for eight years before facing the same cancer again. It has been almost nine years since that relapse diagnosis and thankfully it has been almost seven years since I completed my relapse treatment. But, no matter how long it has been since that fateful day of diagnosis, I remember it very clearly. I remember that moment so clearly because it was a moment that redefined my life.
by Shannon Cox, Living with Cancer
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I had a lot of fears. Fear of the side effects of chemo, fear of surgery and further treatments. But there was a side effect of chemo that I did not expect and it hit me harder than I ever thought it would. Chemo brain.
We asked our Current Oncology Section Editors how they would define the term “life after cancer” and how that theme presents itself in their chosen fields. Below is a response from Dr. R. Daniel Bonfil, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, Departments of Urology and Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine:
Let’s face it – the term “cancer” still paralyzes everyone who is diagnosed with one of the more than 100 types of diseases grouped under the term, even if it’s potentially curable. There is no doubt that most of the victorious therapies in some forms of cancer are obscured by less effective treatments in others, leading to this general feeling of hopelessness.
Today we know that very few common denominators exist for cancer, making it essential to understand the unique molecular mechanisms that drive each type of this disease to develop effective “tailored” therapies. As a basic scientist in cancer research, I am happy to see how the translational research gap has been steadily bridged during the last few years, prompting an increasing number of laboratory investigators and practicing oncologists to embark upon the laudable task of rapidly moving new discoveries from the bench to the clinic.
Many clear victories over specific cancers have been lately obtained by crossing this so called “valley of death”. Hopefully, breakthroughs in genomics, proteomics, and nanotechnology – among other areas – along with the breach of the gap between basic and clinical research, will help treating, diagnosing, and preventing cancer diseases and increase the survival rate of cancer patients in ways we could never imagine.