House Call: Cancer — How it’s become a Chronic Disease
A cancer diagnosis no longer has to carry the “death sentence” connotation it used to have several years ago.
Through extensive research and treatment advancements, people are now living longer with cancer.
Oncology researchers and specialists now have a better understanding of the genetic make-up of cancer cells and have developed a treatment that is prolonging cancer remission and survival, called targeted therapy.
While chemotherapy treats by killing everything that grows, good and bad cells; targeted therapy specifically attacks the cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells and tissue alone. Not only is targeted therapy causing patients to live longer, it is also improving their quality of life during treatment.
Many of the targeted therapies are offered in pill forms, therefore patients do not have to come sit in a chemotherapy lounge for several hours each week. Also, in general, targeted therapy causes fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
Currently, targeted therapies are showing improved outcomes and being used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, melanoma and lung, kidney, breast colon and prostate cancers. With continued research and clinical trials, the medical community aims to make chemotherapy a thing of the past and treat all forms of cancers with targeted therapy.
Dr. Peter Ennever is an oncology and hematology specialist at Cancer Center at MedCenter High Point, an accredited satellite of the Cone Health Cancer Center. Dr. Ennever is a 1988 medical school graduate of George Washington University. He completed his residency at University of Pittsburgh Health Science Center and completed a fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at Yale-New Haven Hospital.