Today's cancer technology is helping more cancer patients survive
Cancer care and treatment has come a long way in recent years, thanks to enhancements in cancer technology. From new imaging techniques to innovative therapies, these developments are making a big difference in the fight against cancer.
Roughly 1.9 million people in the United States were diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2022. Breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men were the most common diagnoses. Thanks to advanced cancer technology, these cancers no longer cause the most deaths. Instead, technology is adding more years to people's lives.
Research, chemotherapy, surgeries, immunotherapy treatments, genetic treatments, and imaging have all evolved through the advancement of technology.
Cancer technology today
Technology has improved cancer treatment in many ways. Cancer drugs have become more effective and targeted, reducing the side effects of treatment and improving quality of life for many people. Imaging technologies have also improved, making it easier to detect and diagnose cancer early and monitor its progression. Additionally, surgical techniques have become more precise, allowing surgeons to remove cancerous tissue with greater accuracy and less damage to the body.
Some of the advancements used today include:
· Genome editing — One of the latest technologies for cancer is gene editing tools. These tools allow scientists to modify genes that are involved in cancer development. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats or CRISPR is a tool that can quickly change the code of cells in the body. This tool works like a pair of scissors that can precisely delete, insert, or edit specific bits of DNA inside cells, resulting in targeted and more personalized cancer treatment, and better outcomes for patients.
- Immunotherapy — Another promising cancer technology is immunotherapy, which uses the patient's own immune system to fight cancer cells. Recent technological advancements in immunotherapy, such as the development of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR T-cell therapy), have led to significant improvements in treatment results for certain types of blood cancer. This cancer therapy works by removing a patient's T cells and changing their properties so they stick to cancer cells. The altered T cells are then placed back into the patient's blood stream to find and kill the cancer cells.
- Nanotechnology — You can't see them, but they are powerful: nanoparticles. These very tiny particles can be used to deliver drugs directly to cancer cells. This technology is still relatively new but already shows great promise for increasing the effectiveness of cancer treatment. Current studies and clinical trials are looking at nanotechnology-based cancer therapies for many cancer types, including breast, lung, lymphoma, and more. Researchers are working to use nanotechnology to not only deliver drugs to cancer cells but to develop new treatments.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) — AI technology is used more and more to help with cancer research and treatment. For example, AI is used to create digital twins for people with cancer, so researchers can predict which treatment will work best for that person. It's also used to analyze imaging and electronic health records to tailor patients' radiation doses to ensure they don't receive too much, or not enough. AI is great at analyzing data, including cancer data within a population. This helps researchers estimate the probability of certain cancers developing among different populations.
- Telemedicine — Also called telehealth, this technology is also improving outcomes for patients who have cancer, especially for those who live in rural or underserved areas, or who are more at risk of infection. Telemedicine allows providers to closely monitor patients' condition and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Providers who see patients during video visits can even prescribe in-home chemotherapy treatments if necessary. People can also take advantage of clinical trials through telehealth services if they do not live close to the researchers.
- TrueBeamTM — One of the most effective imaging technologies used today to treat cancer is the TruBeam system from Varian Medical Systems. This advanced radiotherapy system is equipped with advanced features that can target cancer tumors with a high degree of precision, down to millimeters, sparing healthy tissue. This gives providers more treatment options to consider which means they can personalize treatments to each person's unique situation.
- Digital mammography — Detecting and treating cancer early increases successful outcomes. Otherwise, the cancer has the potential to spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. 3-D mammograms use advanced imaging technology to detect cancer better than traditional mammograms. This technology is especially helpful to women with dense breasts which make cancer detection harder.
- Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy (RAB) — This new technology helps surgeons detect lung cancer by allowing them to collect samples from lung nodules that traditional bronchoscopy couldn't. RAB uses a tiny camera connected to the end of a small flexible tube to take pictures of your air passages that the surgeon can view on a screen in real-time. Areas in the lungs that couldn't be reached before are now easily accessible so samples can immediately be removed for testing. According to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, lung cancer deaths are dropping, in part due to new technologies like RAB and improved treatment options.
- Low-dose CT scans — These CT scans are also helping clinicians detect non-small cell lung cancer earlier than ever before. Because the images they capture are more detailed than traditional CT scans, diagnosis is more accurate. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of scan. Talk with your provider for more information.
These are just some of the ways providers are researching, diagnosing and treating cancer. Thanks to these improvements, more people are surviving cancer than ever before.
Contact the Reid Health Cancer Center to learn more about how our cancer technology can help you or someone you care about.