Cancer continues to be a major threat to people’s lives despite the advances in the fields of health and medical sciences. The value of cancer treatment is unable to keep pace with the climb in its prices. A high mortality rate, low treatment affordability, the persisting treatment resistance, and adverse reactions caused in the body due to treatment; they are all evidence that cancer cure is yet to be improved. Research in the area of cancer is thus relevant in the present scenario. Research and business collaborations aim to tackle these problems effectively in the coming years.
The current day understanding of cancer
Every new cell in the body arises from the division of a pre-existing cell. All of these cells undergo a growth cycle regulated by genetic codes. Each cell is allowed to divide only a particular number of times and then faces death. Any hereditary or external influence, that alters the genetic code, prevents a restricted growth and the cells continue to multiply uncontrollably. This condition is referred to as cancer. As a result of unrestricted growth, cells continue to divide and aggregate to form tumors. Agents that allow the cells to evade the programmed cell death are referred to as carcinogens. These may be chemical, physical or even biological factors.
Although the burgeoning of sophisticated gene-based technologies has helped us understand the enormous complexity of cancer, humankind remains unable to prevent most of its types or provide a complete cure to their victims.
The hurdles to an efficient cancer treatment
No timely detection
International conference events emphasize the pressing need is to improve methods of diagnosis to avail patients a timely treatment. Most cancers are curable at an early stage. But many of their symptoms can only be detected when they progress to more advanced stages.
Cancer’s resilience to our immune system
Cancer and cancer treatment, both, are capable of weakening the immune system. White blood cells (WBCs), that are crucial for immunity, are reduced in number when cancer spreads into the bone marrow and the formation of new blood cells is hampered. A few cancer treatments are also capable of reducing the WBC count in the blood.
While some cancers are considered curable, treatment procedures aren’t able to provide a complete protection against most of them. Contrary to the popular belief that cancerous cells have a similar malignant potential as normal body cells, some findings have shown the presence of cancer stem cells. This has had a profound effect on the research being conducted on treatment methods. But the success stories are few.
Researchers have been unable to target these high-malignancy cells and thus cancer recurrence is common post the discontinuation of treatment procedures. These cells are also immune to a wide range of anti-cancer drugs. An appreciable proportion of cancer-caused deaths can be attributed to these characteristics of cancer.
Cancer 2018: Global research to propel cancer cure
There has been extensive research to identify genetic anomaly patterns that determine the occurrence of cancer in the lifetime of a human. But, the causes that are epigenetic haven’t been analyzed in detail. The lack of cancer epigenetic profiling is an added bottleneck to developing an effective cure. Conventional cancer treatments processes have a limited potential and the capabilities of newer methods have to be evaluated.
With a good number of scientific conferences coming up to discuss the area of cancer research, the identified difficulties are expected to be resolved with an increased momentum.