We are developing new cancer drugs through clinical trials
In the 'bad old days', people with cancer died quickly but thankfully now it is almost always a chronic long term disease. Patients with many types of breast cancer can be cured. In fact, due to better multi-disciplinary care that includes the most modern targeted drugs, the list of cancers that may be cured is becoming longer all the time.
Wednesday 15th February 2012
When I see patients with cancer who are not cured, I am very disappointed but not surprised. One day, I hope to be both disappointed and surprised. This is not false hope but a new dawn.
Sometimes however, normal treatment options are exhausted or people living with cancer are too exhausted to carry on. The exhaustion is due to both the treatment and the underlying cancer. At this point, it is sometimes worth trying something completely new and different, in the hope it might make a difference. Some people try new diets and new complementary therapies and there is nothing wrong with that. Others try a totally new drug – or both together. Some of the earliest stage new drugs don’t even have names yet but at least we have detailed knowledge of how they work, and the molecules inside cells that they target to destroy. We give them in such low doses because they have often never been tried in humans before. Because of the low doses given, side effects such as fatigue are thankfully very rare indeed. This is good news, but the not so good news is that it is uncommon to get the cancer under control again. However, the information learned can be used to help other people with cancer and develop new life-saving medicines, that increase both quality of life and quantity of life. This doesn’t mean that people are guinea-pigs in a scientific experiment, because these new medicines are real but we just don’t know when they might work. More importantly, we are always trying to find out who they might work in.
The scientific journals are full of new discoveries about how cancer cells divide and makes them different to normal cells. We are approaching an era when we can understand this at an individual patient level, and tailor make our new therapies to fit a precise patient at the right time using the right medicines.
At the Harley Street Breast Clinic our Consultants are all involved in developing the latest new treatments. We have access to many of the drugs under development and to the clinical drug trials that are under way to assess their effectiveness. If you think that you might want to be involved in a trial of the newest and most revolutionary new cancer drugs phone our clinic and we will be able to put you in touch with the relevant specialist.