by J. Bick
The day my friend called me to say that she was discontinuing chemotherapy, I was angry and disillusioned. My first comment was “You can’t! The longer they can keep you alive, the better chance you have of surviving. There are new drugs every day.”
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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. Thierry Alcindor, Assistant Professor, Departments of Oncology and Medicine, McGill University Faculty of Medicine.
The outcome of several cancers has improved over the past few decades, owing to advances in surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and palliative care. Therefore, taking care of the surviving victim of cancer has now become an integral part of oncology.
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.