Facing a Fierce Opponent, and Gaining Ground

Mike Hennessy, Sr.

SO MANY OF the cancers we write about in these pages stand as fierce opponents against both patients and the scientific community, and glioblastoma certainly fits into that category.

A disease with a poor prognosis, it’s hard to treat, given the incredible diversity of the cell types involved. Glioblastoma cells differ markedly not just from patient to patient, but within individual tumors — not to mention that the cells in recurrent disease tend to be different from the ones that characterize initial disease.

Nonetheless, scientists are finding novel ways to treat this intransigent brain cancer — methods we address in this issue of CURE. These treatments, many still experimental, hold the potential to extend survival for patients and improve their quality of life.

For example, the vaccine Rintega (rindopepimut), as well as chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR T cells), focus on targeting EGFRvIII, a genetic abnormality of the epidermal growth factor receptor seen in nearly a third of glioblastomas. Another advance is Optune, a device worn on the head that delivers low-intensity electrical fields directly to brain tumors, killing cancer cells as they divide. Used in combination with chemotherapy, this method is brand-new in treating cancer.

This is exactly the kind of story we like to report in CURE — the most advanced techniques in personalized medicine, as well as strategies never before used in cancer, being applied to a disease in which there is a dire need for an improved standard of care. For those affected by glioblastoma, these advances may spark new hope.

Education and guidance on other relevant topics are also offered in this issue. We share the ins and outs of traveling for cancer treatment, nutrition do’s and don’ts, tips on surviving cancer as a single person, a discussion of the potential dangers of cell phones and expert guidance about female sexuality after cancer treatment. And, of course, there’s our cover story, which takes a broad look at the causes of cancer.

We hope these articles leave you both informed and inspired as you move through your journey with cancer, no matter how you are touched by the disease. As always, thank you for reading.

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