Evolving Pillars of Cancer Treatment
The treatment of human cancers has evolved over centuries to the present and has been categorised as the five pillars. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the only treatment option for cancer was surgery. With the discovery of X-rays and its capability to kill rapidly proliferating cells, Radiation was added as another treatment method. The ability of a Nitrogen mustard derivative to kill cancer cells was used to treat blood cancer patients resulting in addition of cytotoxic chemotherapy as the third pillar. Following the remarkable success of targeted therapies such as Imatinib and Bevacizumab, Molecularly Targeted Therapy became the fourth pillar. In the last decade, with the success of immuno-oncology drugs in many cancers, the fifth pillar – Immunotherapy was added.
Depending on the stage of cancer, treatment options vary and a combination of treatments can be used. Therapy before surgery (Neo-adjuvant therapy), Perioperative therapy (before and after surgery) and adjuvant therapy (after surgery) are given based on the decisions of the oncologist. The combination of the three has been to shown to significantly increase the overall survival and quality of life of patients.
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- American Association of Cancer Research, Cancer Progress Report, 2021