Advancements in Oncology and Proton Therapy

Goals

The goal is to find a high-level overview of recent advancements in oncology and proton therapy in the US.

Early Findings

  • Eligibility requirements for clinical trials have been reduced, allowing for cancer patients that are older or have some pre-existing conditions to participate and perhaps receive treatments they otherwise would not.
  • Liquid biopsies, or the process of testing for cancer cells in the blood, is in the works. This could allow for much earlier detection of cancer in patients because the current method, tissue biopsies, often only show results in later stages of the disease.
  • Targeted therapies, such as the breast cancer drug Herceptin, are being used more often in place of chemotherapy. These drugs target the cancer cells only, instead of also killing healthy cells, and can come without the heavy side effects of chemo.
  • Immunotherapy is becoming a big focus of oncology studies. Immune system checkpoint drugs are being studied to treat various types of cancer, though the results are varied and more testing needs to be done to create a broad approach in the field.
  • CAR T-cell immunotherapy uses the patient's own cells to kill the cancer cells and is currently FDA approved for two types of cancer, with more in the works.
  • A recent study showed that proton therapy led to a two-thirds reduction in the number of hospitalizations of cancer patients due to severe side effects from other treatments.

Proposed next steps:

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