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The Future of Cancer Treatment

Info: 3634 words (15 pages) Nursing Literature Review
Published: 8th Jun 2020

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Tags: cancerdisease

ABSTRACT

Cancer comprises several diseases that are characterized by abnormal cell growth. There are over one hundred varieties of cancer usually named for their cell or organ type. Cancer is the root cause of death across the world evidenced by WHO which established that around one in six deaths all over the world are due to cancer. The common cancer treatments currently used include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation; which on some level are harmful to the healthy body cells and also the cancerous cells. Nevertheless, none of these treatments completely guarantees that the cancer cells are bound to stop multiplying and dividing. However, some chemotherapy radiation and drugs do slow or assist in stopping the cancer cell reproduction, while on the other hand surgery works at removing all the cancer cells from the body. As such, these poses need for doing research to get cancer cure as well as improve the outcome for the patients affected by the disease. Nevertheless, as much as focus is given on cure, it is important to educate the public on ways of preventing cancer by observing diets and changing lifestyles. People should also be constantly screened for various types of cancer since early identification increases possibilities of cure.

 

INTRODUCTION

Cancer comprises several diseases that are characterized by abnormal cell growth. These cells can attack various tissues of the body, which results in serious health issues. Cancer cells can spread to other body parts via the lymph and blood systems. Davila et al. (2010) ascertained that there over one hundred varieties of cancer usually named for their cell or organ type. Currently, cancer is the root cause of death across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that all over the world, around one in six deaths are down to cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 2017 estimated that only in the US, one million, six hundred and sixty six thousand, seven hundred and eighty new cancer cases are reported and six hundred thousand, nine hundred and twenty deaths are cancer-related (Roser and Ritchie (2019).

Statement of the problem

Research conducted by Roser and Ritchie (2019) shows the need for getting cancer cure in order to improve outcome for the patients affected by the disease. Their findings reveal that WHO, healthcare planners, National Cancer Institute, International Agency for Research and European Cancer Organization are working towards getting cancer cure. The main objectives of this research are: to determine various ways of preventing, identifying and treating cancer and to find out the reason why it is difficult to get cancer cure.

Purpose of the Study

The researcher herein sought to acquire comprehensive knowledge in cancer causes, identification methods as well as treatment methods.

Research problem

The study addresses a research problem or issues pertaining cancer cure and related ways of making treatment easy and possible.

Research questions

To cover the research gaps identified, the following research questions were found to be relevant:

  1. Why is it difficult to get cancer cure?
  2. What are the various ways of preventing cancer as well as making cure possible?
  3. What are cancer treatment methods currently used and how are they improved to effectively cure cancer?

LITERATURE REVIEW

Immunotherapy

Cancer immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment method that assists the immune system in fighting the cancer cells. The immune system consists of range of cells, organs, and tissues that assist the body in fighting off the foreign invaders, which includes the parasites, bacteria, and viruses (Sharma, Hu-Lieskovan, Wargo, & Ribas, 2017). However, since cancer cells are not foreign invaders, the immune system may require some help in identifying them. Various researchers have identified various ways of offering this help (Roser & Ritchie, 2019).

Boosting the immune system’s ‘arsenal’

Immunotherapy is one of the therapies that has recently attracted a lot of attention. Immunotherapy targets at reinforcing our own bodies’ subsisting arsenal against harmful cells and foreign bodies: the body immune system’s reaction to the multiplication of the cancer tumors. However, various types of cancer cells are so dangerous since they have means of “duping” the immune system by either providing them with a “helping hand” or else ignoring them altogether. As such, some forms of aggressive cancer can possibly spread more easily and be resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy (Fukuhara et al., 2016).

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Nonetheless, Vitro and in vivo experiments gives new hope whereby the researchers are learning of various ways on how to ‘deactivate” the cancer cells’ protective systems. Roser and Ritchie, (2019) in their research established that the white blood cells are usually assigned with “eating up” cellular debris and additional dangerous foreign “objects that fail to wipe out the super-aggressive cancer cells (Stivarou,  Stellas, Vartzi, Thomaidou, & Patsavoudi, 2016). This was because, in the course of interacting with the cancer cells, the white blood cells read not only one but two signals that are intended to fight off their “cleansing” action. This knowledge has unlighted the scientist on the best mechanism of fighting the cancer cells by blocking the two important signaling pathways; they re-enable the white blood cells to do their task.

Therapeutic viruses and innovative “vaccines”

Therapeutic viruses’ acts as a surprising weapon meant to fight against cancer. This technique involves a strain of reovirus only to kill brain cancer cells while not affecting the healthy cells in any way. El Mjiyad, Caro-Maldonado, Ramirez-Peinado and Munoz-Pinedo (2011) identified that therapeutic virus has the capacity to cross the brain-blood barrier hence opening up the chances of this type of immunotherapy to be utilized in treating individuals with aggressive brain cancers (Fukuhara et al., 2016).

El Mjiyad et al. (2011) identified “dendritic vaccines” as another sector of improvement in immunotherapy. In this strategy, the dendritic cells are taken from an individual’s body, “armed” with tumor-particular antigens meant to teach them on how to “hunt” and kill relevant cancer cells and introduced back into the body for purposes of boosting the immune system.

Klebanoff, Acquavella, Yu, and Restifo (2011) pointed out that Switzerland’s researchers have identified a way of improving dendritic vaccine action by forming artificial receptors that are in a position to recognize as well as “abduct” small vesicles that are related to cancer tumors’ distributed in the body. Through the attachment of the artificial receptors to the dendritic cells in the “vaccine,” the therapeutic cells are enhanced to accurately identify the harmful cancer cells.

El Mjiyad et al. (2011) in their recent studies identified that immunotherapy could work best if offered in a cycle with chemotherapy and more precisely in cases where chemotherapy drugs are first administered then immunotherapy follows. However, Fukuhara et al. (2016) identified some setbacks in this combined method by posing difficulties in controlling the effects such that sometimes the healthy tissues are attacked together with the cancer cells. Luckily, North Carolina’s scientists from two institutes developed a substance that immediately introduced into the body; it turns into a gel-like “a bioresponsive scaffold system (Dine, Gordon, Shames, Kasler, & Barton-Burke, 2017).” The scaffold has the ability to hold both the immunotherapy and chemotherapy drugs at the same time, discharging them into primary tumors. This method enhances better regulation of both therapies, making sure that the drugs only responds to the targeted tumors only.

The nanoparticle revolution

This tool has garnered so much attention in clinical research amongst other various researches since it accurately and efficiently delivers drugs directly to the tumor as well as destroying the micro tumors. The nanoparticles have the ability to target the cancer tumors or the cells without necessarily damaging the healthy body cells in the surrounding surroundings (Brannon & Hadjifrangiskou, 2016).

Some of the nanoparticles are formed in a way that they offer a much focused hyperthermic treatment, a therapy that utilizes hot temperatures to cause the cancer cells to shrink. In 2017, the UK and China scientists established a type of “self-regulating” nanoparticle that successfully exposed cancer tumors to heat without touching the healthy tissues (Pinank, Kaushik, Shyam, Amrutia, & Faldu, 2016).

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Pinank et al. (2016) identified that nanoparticles can also be utilized to target cancer stem-like cells, which are associated to the resilience to specific forms of cancer in the facade of traditional cancer treatment, for instance, the chemotherapy. Additionally, the nanoparticles can also be “loaded” with drug and placed to kill the cancer stem cells in order to hinder the growth reappearance of the tumor. This has been tested and found to effectively treat endometrial and breast cancer. Moreover, the “nanoprobes” which are used in detecting the presence of micrometastases, which previously could not be identified by the use of traditional methods (Fukuhara et al., 2016).

Tumor “starvation approaches

Researchers are currently focusing on this strategy, whereby the tumors are starved of the nutrients that they require to grow and spread. Fukuhara et al. (2016) pointed out that this would work out best in case of the cancers that are resilient and aggressive and cannot be successfully eradicated otherwise. Tam et al. (2010) identified “stopping glutamine” from supplying nutrients to the cancer cells as the best strategy to eradicate cancer especially the colon, breast and the lung cancer which are widely known to utilize amino acid to support their growth. Once the cancer cells are blocked from access to glutamine, they tend to die via the oxidative stress. Blocking access to vitamin B-2 has been identified by researchers from the University of Salford in the U.K as an effective way of depleting the cancer cells of energy.

METHODOLOGY

In this research, a qualitative research methodology was adopted.  The main interest in this qualitative research was to find relevant articles that could establish whether there is a probable future in which cancer could get a treatment.  Since cancer affects all populations, the research was not restricted to a certain population in a society. Therefore, data involving diversified population but relevant to the research question was utilized. 

The researcher scoured the internet through different databases to find the most recent peer-reviewed articles. This was critical in responding to the research gap established in the literature review. The databases that the researcher found to be relevant for inclusion included Google Scholar, PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, and TOXNET. In the databases, the search was limited to articles published in the last 10 years. However, articles published in the last five years were prioritized. Key phrases such as cancer treatment, the future of cancer cure, treatment for all cancers, discoveries in cancer treatment among others were utilized. After the articles were found, the researcher read the abstract of each article and articles that had relevant information were recorded.

Thematic analysis was conducted to come up with the key themes regarding the future in cancer treatment. In thematic analysis, the research involved reviewing the findings of all articles found fit for inclusion to come up with the common ideas regarding the future of cancer treatment.

RESULTS

The table below summarizes the total articles found from each database.

Database Total articles Articles Excluded Articles included
Google Scholar 40 38 2
PubMed 16 15 1
CINAHL 14 11 3
Cochrane Library 6 5 1
TOXNET 7 7 0

DISCUSSION

Current Cancer Treatment

Currently, cancer is the root cause of death across the world. The common cancer treatments currently used include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation; which on some level are harmful to the healthy body cells and also the cancerous cells. They all stop cancer cells at one point from multiplying by use of hyperthermia, drugs, photodynamic therapy, stem cell/bone marrow transplant, cryotherapy, gene therapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and surgery amongst others (Dine et al., 2017). Nevertheless, none of these treatments that completely guarantees that the cancer cells are bound to stop multiplying and dividing though some chemotherapy radiation and drugs do slow or assist in stopping the cancer cell reproduction while on the other hand surgery works at removing all the cancer cells from the body. Cancer that is untreated can result in serious illness or death (Roser & Ritchie, 2019).

Cancer Treatment Innovations

Cancer treatment innovation targets at addressing a set of issues that typically faces healthcare patients and providers, which includes aggressive treatment combined with unwanted side effects, tumor reappearance after surgery, treatment or both and destructive cancers that are hardy to widely used treatments. Use of surgery, medicine, radiation, and modification of the immune system are in the track of finding more ways of curing some cancer patients (Dine et al., 2017). On the other hand, some types of cancer will have new approaches that may not completely eliminate or rather cure cancer but will effectively manage cancer increasing the life span of the cancer patients as well as give them chance to enjoy life without the major cancer consequences. This can only be achieved via a specialist’s continued support who dedicates their lives towards enhancing care and outcome for the cancer patients.

A number of less widespread cancer treatments existing have the capacity to be more effective, with minimal side effects than the most normally known treatment. Continuation of research on these treatments is crucial to continue to improve them. Nevertheless, other types of cancer treatment are cropping up to pick up the steam; therapies that work independently or in combination with others are intended to assist in defeating cancer more efficiently and idyllically with minimal side effects.

Complexity of Cancer Treatment

For quite some time now, researchers have led scrupulous studies that focus on ways of stopping this deadly disease in its track. There are various types of cancer treatments, and the type of treatment offered to the patient depends on the cancer type and how advanced it is. Some cancer patients undergo one treatment while others have a blend of treatments (Roser & Ritchie, 2019).

Considering the fact that cancer is not just one disease but a collection of several complex and normally very dissimilar illnesses; that aim the body in a heap of various ways and are found at different stages, there is no single cure. However, there are various ways that can readily improve the cancer situation, and more research will undoubtedly bring more hope to cancer cure. Advancement in cancer treatment has resulted in more modest development in survival and outcome (Roser & Ritchie, 2019).

Ways of Preventing Cancer Which Enhances Cure

Roser and Ritchie (2019) pointed out that 40% of cancers are preventable via changing lifestyles such as avoiding drinking, consuming less alcohol as well as maintaining a healthy weight. The remaining sixty percent results from environmental factors that are not well known. Genetic factors also cause various types of cancer which occur by chance. As such, identification of the mechanisms that underpins cancer causes, it would be easy to prevent as well as cure cancer. Moreover, it has been proven that early identification of cancer makes it easy to manage or else cure it. Early identification of cancer can be achieved through cancer check-up in the general population to ensure that it is detected at early stages before symptoms show up and before it becomes difficult to treat it. During tests, doctors need to be accurate enough to ensure that they do not give false results in healthy individuals to ensure that people are not treated for cancer that they do not have. Additionally, they need to also accurately identify the exact part of the body with cancer cells in order to have the right treatment administered (Dine et al., 2017). Even though it is not possible to prevent all types of cancer, it is crucial to work towards reducing the burden of cancer (Davila et al., 2010).

Conclusion

Cancer research is currently taking place at a very high speed; the researchers are taking full advantage of all technological progress that science has realized over the recent years. The issue of getting a cancer cure is somehow tricky since cancer types vary immensely. However, promising studies have been published that gives hope for a more effective treatment for most cancer types though they are in their early stages. This makes it almost impossible to conclude that a strategy that works best for one cancer type can be possibly adapted for all. It is also important to note that some potential cancer treatments require more time before clinical trials can be undertaken in human patients. However, this should never discourage people in any way, but instead, the scientist’s efforts should make people optimistic. But in reality, we are not at a stage where we can confidently claim that cancer can be easily eliminated. Nevertheless, our furthered information and the more precise tools at the scientist exposure keep them ahead of the game, which improves odds in eradicating it.

REFERENCES

  • Brannon, J. R., & Hadjifrangiskou, M. (2016). The arsenal of pathogens and antivirulence therapeutic strategies for disarming them. Drug design, development and therapy10, 1795.Roser, M., & Ritchie, H. (2019). Cancer. Retrieved 5 August 2019, from https://ourworldindata.org/cancer
  • Davila, J. A., Morgan, R. O., Richardson, P. A., Du, X. L.,McGlynn, K. A., & El‐Serag, H. B. (2010). Use of surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with cirrhosis in the United States. Hepatology, 52(1), 132-141.
  • Dine, J., Gordon, R., Shames, Y., Kasler, M. K., & Barton-Burke, M. (2017). Immune checkpoint inhibitors: an innovation in immunotherapy for the treatment and management of patients with cancer. Asia-Pacific journal of oncology nursing4(2), 127.
  • El Mjiyad, N., Caro-Maldonado, A., Ramirez-Peinado, S., & Munoz-Pinedo, C. (2011). Sugar-free approaches to cancer cell killing. Oncogene, 30(3), 253.
  • Fukuhara, H., Ino, Y., & Todo, T. (2016). Oncolytic virus therapy: A new era of cancer treatment at dawn. Cancer Science, 107(10), 1373-1379.
  • Klebanoff, C. A., Acquavella, N., Yu, Z., & Restifo, N. P. (2011). Therapeutic cancer vaccines are we there yet?.Immunological Reviews, 239(1), 27-44.
  • Pinank, K., Kaushik, B., Shyam, V., Amrutia, M., & Faldu, N. U. (2016). Revolutionary Therapies and Manipulation of Nanoparticles to Cure Cancer. J Bioelectron Nanotechnol1(1), 5.
  • Sharma, P., Hu-Lieskovan, S., Wargo, J. A., & Ribas, A. (2017). Primary, adaptive, and acquired resistance to cancer immunotherapy. Cell168(4), 707-723.
  • Stivarou, T., Stellas, D., Vartzi, G., Thomaidou, D., & Patsavoudi, E. (2016). Targeting highly expressed extracellular HSP90 in breast cancer stem cells inhibits tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Cancer biology & therapy17(8), 799-812.
  • Tam, J. M., Tam, J. O., Murthy, A., Ingram, D. R., Ma, L. L., Travis, K., … &Sokolov, K. V. (2010). Controlled assembly of biodegradable plasmonic nanoclusters for near-infrared imaging and therapeutic applications. ACS Nano, 4(4), 2178-2184.

 

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