Every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer — that’s around a thousand new cases every day. By 2040, there will be an estimated 27.5 million new cancer cases worldwide.
But, while concerns are growing around the demand on our healthcare system, there have been several key breakthroughs in cancer care, that are changing the game. From screening techniques and diagnostic tools, to developments in AI and precision medicine, new technologies and innovative treatments are improving patient outcomes and ultimately saving lives.
But when it comes to real patients and real-life stories, what is the experience for someone diagnosed with cancer? And which cancers are proving harder to diagnose early?
For ITN Business’ news-style programme ‘Working Together: To Tackle Cancer’, our presenter spoke to Michael, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 50s.
“I was diagnosed at the age of 54 and my prostate itself was abnormal. There were a lot of emotions — some tears. But the diagnosis at the time was hopeful. They caught it early. I thought it was all doom at first; ‘Well, you’ve got prostate cancer, that’s it’. But because they caught it early, it gave me a fighting chance at life. Now I feel I’ve been given a second chance and I’m not going to waste it.”
Prostate Cancer Stats: One in eight will be diagnosed
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men, and one in eight will be diagnosed within their lifetime.
If caught early, it can be cured, but too many men are being diagnosed too late for a cure, especially in Scotland and the north of England.
Research shows there are inequalities that affect a prostate cancer diagnosis. Black men have double the risk of prostate cancer. One in four black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
“When we look at who’s diagnosed with prostate cancer late, we can see that poverty is a significant risk factor”, explains Amy Rylance, Head of Improving Care at Prostate Cancer UK. “But there’s also geographical inequalities in the UK. There’s a strong north-south divide and the further north you go in the UK, the more likely your diagnosis will come after your cancer has advanced.”
Michael’s advice for other men is to visit the Prostate Cancer UK website and take the risk checker.
“Don’t wait for the symptoms. The earlier you are detected, the better chance you have of living a full life.”
“It’s important that men know that early prostate cancer, curable prostate cancer doesn’t normally have symptoms,” Amy adds. “You need to understand your risk factors, particularly for black men, for men with a family history.”
Screening for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer that doesn’t have a screening programme, and because of that, 10,000 men are diagnosed late every year.
Prostate Cancer UK is raising awareness that the health inequalities in advanced diagnosis and the risk factors men need to be aware of to help give every man the best chance.
Approved by Prostate Cancer UK
Key Developments in Cancer Care
- Immunotherapy Advancements
Immunotherapy has been a game-changer in cancer treatment. The development of immune checkpoint inhibitors has seen success in treating various types of cancer, including melanoma, lung cancer, and certain types of advanced cancers.
- Precision Medicine
Advances in genomics and molecular profiling have allowed for more precise and tailored cancer treatments. Oncologists can now use genetic information from a patient’s tumour to select targeted therapies that are more likely to be effective.
- Early Detection Technologies
Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms are now being used to analyse medical images and identify potential malignancies. This is just one of the ways AI is driving progress in advanced screening and diagnostic tools for early cancer detection.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery and Robotic Surgery
Minimally invasive surgical techniques, including laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgery, have become standard for many cancer surgeries. These approaches offer smaller incisions, reduced pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recoveries.
- Targeted Therapies
Targeted therapies are drugs that specifically target the genetic or molecular abnormalities driving cancer growth. These therapies are tailored to the unique characteristics of a patient’s tumour. The development of targeted therapies has improved treatment outcomes and reduced side effects compared to traditional chemotherapy.
- CAR T-Cell Therapy
Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has shown great promise in treating certain blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma. This personalized approach involves modifying a patient’s T-cells to target and destroy cancer cells
‘Shaping The Future of Cancer Care’
On February 4th, 2024, ITN Business will mark World Cancer Day with a new programme — titled ‘Shaping The Future of Cancer Care’. Here’s a taster of what’s to come.