For decades, cancer has continued to be one of the leading causes of death, with almost 600,000 Americans dying of cancer every year. Currently, the most common cancer types are breast, lung, prostate, and melanoma. New trials, treatments, and research studies reveal exciting news about the battle against cancer. Some breakthroughs give hope to patients who receive a diagnosis for types of cancer that have previously been the most difficult to combat.
Drug Therapy For Uveal Melanoma Cuts Death Rate in Half
Uveal melanoma, a rare but incurable eye cancer, has previously had no medical treatment. But, a new trial shows promising results that cut the relative risk of death in half and prolonged survival for patients with metastasized uveal melanoma. Patients who receive Tebentafusp to treat uveal melanoma have almost half the risk of death as patients who receive chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatments. Tebentafusp is the first drug with proven survival benefits for patients with uveal melanoma. Until now, patients with a uveal melanoma diagnosis could expect to live approximately one year after the melanoma has spread to other parts of the body. Tebentafusp is administered intravenously once a week. The treatment is a protein that recognizes receptor targets in melanoma cells and T-cells produced by the immune system. The two receptors form a “bridge” that allows the immune system to attack the tumor.
Cancer Vaccine Shows Promising Results for Multiple Types of Cancer
The vaccine known as PGV-001 is in the early trial stage but shows signs of being a promising therapy for a variety of cancer types. The immunotherapy is a personalized vaccine, which helps prime the immune system for an improved response. The vaccine appears to be well-tolerated, with only mild adverse effects. Thomas Marron, MD, presented the results at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting and disclosed that of the 13 patients who received the vaccine, four patients had no evidence of cancer and had not received additional therapy. Cancer types included stage III lung cancer, stage IV positive breast cancer, stage II bladder cancer, and multiple myeloma. Immunotherapy treatments are making huge strides in the fight against cancer, and personalized vaccines like PGV-001 demonstrate a potentially safe way to treat a wide range of cancer types.
Diabetes Drug Has Antitumor Properties
Starting in the 1950’s, the drug phenformin was prescribed to treat type II diabetes. Years later, a similar and safer drug, metformin, replaced phenformin as the most prescribed drug to treat diabetes in the United States. Decades later, studies show both drugs have antitumor properties and patients prescribed the drugs were less likely to develop cancer. Various clinical studies show when phenformin is combined with immunotherapies there is greater success. One review speculated that phenformin may work in part, by changing the gut microbiota, or the microorganisms that live in the gut. The drug’s ability to affect the gut microbiota also contributes to its ability to lower blood sugar for patients with type II diabetes.
Proton Therapy Better Targets and Treats Tumors
As early as the 1950s, proton therapy was proposed as a treatment option to destroy cancer cells. Decades later, proton therapy centers began treating patients once FDA approval cleared in 1988. Currently, there are 37 proton therapy centers treating patients in the US. Wider accessibility makes this treatment an exciting option to more effectively treat tumors in hard-to-reach places. Proton therapy is an innovative technology that delivers a precise beam of protons to the direct location, where the tumor is located, conforms to the shape of the tumor, and then releases energy. This isolated treatment allows the surrounding tissue to be relatively unaffected and unharmed and leads to fewer side effects. Unlike traditional radiation treatment, which uses x-rays, proton therapy uses protons, which are positively charged particles to destroy cancer cells with their high energy. Proton therapy is being used on patients with tumors located in parts of the body, like the brain, that present complicated treatment options. With more proton therapy centers predicted to open in the coming years, patients have new hope to combat the ongoing fight against cancer.
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