The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is meeting in Chicago this week, and some exciting new research is being presented in the medical treatment of some traditionally unresponsive cancers.
Plastic Surgeons and Cancer Treatment
Board Certified Plastic Surgeons perform more than three times as many reconstructive surgeries compared to
cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. Of these reconstructive plastic surgery procedures, more than 75% involve the treatment of cancer. The most common cancer by far is skin cancer, and so it accounts for the largest number of patients. Good reconstructive plastic surgery for skin cancer may not make the headlines, or Entertainment Tonight, like bad cosmetic plastic surgery does, but reconstruction after the removal of skin cancer is both rewarding and challenging.
Over the last few decades, public awareness of breast reconstruction after the treatment of breast cancer has grown. Growth of the procedure has paralleled growth in the number of methods for reconstruction and the evolution of breast implants. Every day, San Francisco Bay Area Plastic Surgeons perform breast reconstruction to replace the breast mound removed with a mastectomy. New, high-strength cohesive gel shaped breast implants will help us do a better job*; however, if better treatments were available, fewer patients would require a mastectomy in the first place.
This is why news from the ASCO’s annual meeting is so exciting. For the first time, studies are showing tumor shrinkage and increased survival for patients receiving drugs that are a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.
The immunotherapy portion of the drug is programmed to enter only cancer cells that have specific mutations. Once inside the diseased cells, the chemotherapy portion is activated and destroys the cancer cell. The goal is to target only the cancer cells. The concept has been around for some time, but now it’s a reality. Studies are underway to measure the safety and effectiveness of this new type of cancer treatment.
Personally, I am most excited about the ability to target specific cells. The next step could be to replace the toxic chemotherapy with instructions for the cell to turn off cancerous growth and repair itself.
Other Difficult Cancers also Targeted
Other promising research was presented. Difficult to treat cancers like Melanoma, Lung Cancer and Gastrointestinal Stromal tumors are responding in early trials. Additional information regarding the timeline of these and other cancer treatments can be found on the ASCO’s web site. (Unfortunately, a direct link is no longer available as the site was updated without redirects.)
The American Society of Clinical Oncology also provides cancer information online at Cancer.net.
*Stay tuned for more information about shaped, gummy bear breast implants on KRON4’s Body Beautiful. I will share more information next Monday, June 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM live on Channel 4. Call in to the show with your questions about these new high-strength cohesive gel breast implants.