Doctors hopeful cancers may soon be managed by medication

Published: 07 June 2017

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Top oncology doctors are hopeful that cancer could soon be a disease managed with medication, much like diabetes or high blood pressure, as new drugs and treatments are continuing to be developed.

Within a decade, doctors are hopeful 75 percent of cancer patients could live at least ten years after diagnosis.

As the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting wrapped up in Chicago, attendees heard from experts across the field, and the tone is optimistic.

Dr David Graham of the Levine Cancer Institute said improvements in treatments mean survival rates are already up, and he’s hopeful the trend will continue.

“I think we are already seeing fantastic changes in survival rates already,” he said, according to The Sun.

“We’ve seen that even in the last decade. There are a number of cancers already that have become chronic, manageable diseases.”

A “fantastic goal,” he said, would be if medication could rein in cancers, making them more easily manageable. 

“We don’t cure high blood pressure, we don’t cure diabetes,” Dr Graham said.

“We find a way for people to live with them.”

One such bright spot is advances in immunotherapies, which are already proving promising in boosting the ability of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells.

“Immune therapies are really going to substantially improve the long-term disease control for some patients,” Dr Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer at ASCO said, according to The Sun.

“The immune therapies have a very long-lasting effect.

“We can be extremely hopeful that we’ve come very far and the pace of progress is accelerating.”

Cancer Australia estimates there will be nearly 135,000 Australians diagnosed with cancer this year, while nearly 48,000 Australians will die of the disease.

Currently, across all cancers, there is a 68 percent chance of surviving at least five years after diagnosis.