Chemotherapy (aka chemo) works well in killing cancer cells. However, the side effects can be pretty nasty, as the patient can deal with intense pain in the hands and feet, headaches, stomach and muscle pain, and more.
It would be great if doctors learn how to treat cancer without the need for chemotherapy. According to a new study that ScienceAlert.com speaks about, the answer might already be there.
Relying on circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA)
The new technique that the study in question speaks about is known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), and it has already proven itself useful for some stage II colon cancer patients in skipping chemo.
ctDNA refers to sections of fragmented DNA that belong to tumors and circulate in the bloodstream, without being part of a tumor cell.
Anne Marie Lennon, a gastroenterologist from Johns Hopkins, explains:
Stage II colon cancer presents a unique challenge,
In stage I colon cancer, patients do not receive chemotherapy because their prognosis for survival is over 90 percent. The risk of discomfort and toxicities from the therapy outweigh the benefits it can provide. On the other hand, every stage III colon cancer patient currently receives chemotherapy because the risk of relapse is high.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. Each year across the planet, about 10 million people die from cancer.
It’s important to keep in mind that chemotherapy doesn’t have to be very painful in all cases, without counting ctDNA. A patient may even be able to continue working during the process. Even if chemotherapy doesn’t get rid of a person’s tumor, it can still grant some level of help.
The new research was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.