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Cancer- New Research, New Results
Medical technology has made tremendous advances in the last few decades. Yet it has not yet been able to tame cancer. An effective treatment for the killer disease that also has less of the unwanted side effects has evaded scientists and doctors over the years.
What is more, cancer cases and cancer deaths are increasing. Blame it on lifestyle changes and pollution. But cancer still poses a challenge to medical science. The disease is expected to affect 16 million people worldwide every year up to the year 2020. The need of the hour is to identify the cancer-causing genes and devise effective methods for the prevention of cancer. Cancer research tries to identify the causes of the disease and develop prevention, diagnosis, and treatment methods. Cancer research concentrates on identifying the mutated genes that are implicated in cancer.
Billions of dollars are being poured into cancer research the world over. Much of the current cancer research is being funded by charity organizations, who are doing their part to help in this fight against cancer.
Cancer research is a complex subject. It includes epidemiology, molecular bioscience, and clinical trials that assess the various cancer treatment applications. The treatment methods employed for cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and chemo-radiotherapy. From the previous decade, cancer research has been concentrating on biotechnology research such as immunotherapy and gene therapy.
Certain hereditary factors can increase the chances of gene mutations that cause cancer, such as the activation of oncogenes or the inhibition of tumor suppressor genes. The oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes’ functions can be disrupted during various stages of tumor progression. The mutations of the genes can be used for classifying the malignancy of a tumor. Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes must be identified during cancer research to understand tumor progression and the success of the treatment. This is all the more important as tumors can also develop resistance to cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy is the most commonly used treatment for cancer. Though surgery and radiation therapy destroy cancer cells in the specified area, chemotherapy is a more all-round treatment. It destroys cancer cells throughout the body. It tracks down and attacks cells that have spread from the source of the tumor to the other parts of the body. Chemotherapy drugs can be used in different combinations for cancer treatment.
Now cancer research is moving to new territories. Scientists are beginning to identify the genes that make cancerous tumors function the way they do. Scientists have recently discovered that breast cancer spreads fast because of the protein HSP27 present in the breast cancer cells. Breast cancers having a higher level of HSP27 are more resistant to chemotherapy and other drug treatments.
Cancer research also is now focusing on the human immune system. It is the immune system that detects irregularities in the human body and fights them. However, the immune system seems to fail in recognizing the cancer cells and attacking them. Research is therefore on to enable the immune system defend the body against tumors.
With some of the best brains in the world working on cancer research, and billions of dollars backing that effort, cancer research is bound to come up with innovative therapies to treat this killer disease.
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