In honor of CURE®’s 20th anniversary, here is a roundup of some of the major advancements in the world of cancer care, according to experts, patients and advocates.
In Spring 2022, CURE® celebrated its 20th anniversary. Just as the brand has evolved over the decades, from a small Texas-based magazine to a major publication with print, web, live event and webinar offerings, the world of cancer care has changed even more so.
Throughout the year, in honor of its anniversary, CURE® interviewed experts, patients and advocates about how the oncology space has evolved in the last two decades, and where the field still needs to go from here. Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say.
Twenty years ago, patients with metastatic kidney cancer were barely living beyond one year after diagnosis, but now, an influx of targeted therapies is helping patients with metastatic kidney cancer live longer and with a better quality of life, explained Dr. Chung-Han Lee, a medical oncologist from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Biomarker-driven care is personalizing treatments for patients with late-stage lung cancer, while better radiation, surgical, ablative and drug options moved the field forward for patients with early-stage lung cancer, explained Dr. Pierre de Delva, section chief of general thoracic surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute in Jackson.
Twenty years ago, all colorectal cancers were bundled together and classified as one disease, but now, clinicians understand that there are cancer characteristics that can majorly impact the surgical or medication options — both of which have vastly improved in the last two decades — for these patients, according to Dr. Andreas M. Kaiser and Dr. Afsaneh Barzi, both from City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California
Treatment methods for triple-negative breast cancer has drastically changed over the years. In fact, survivor Kelly Thomas claimed that if she was diagnosed today instead of years ago, her therapies would have looked far different than they did in 2017.
When Dr. Saad Z. Usmani, chief of myeloma service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City, was a trainee, there were few options for myeloma treatments, and long-term survival rates were far lower than they are now. Now, 20 years later, there are far more drugs and drug combinations, as well as newer treatment methods such as CAR-T cell therapy, that are helping patients with myeloma live longer, better lives.
Now that more patients are living longer with or after cancer, survivorship care plans have become more important in recent decades. Dr. Anne Blaes, the director of cancer survivorship services and translational research at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, explained that 20 years ago, patients did not have much direction of what to do after cancer care ended. Now, they receive survivorship care plans with information about surveillance and long-term side effects.
Award-winning actor, producer and cancer advocate Patrick Dempsey sat down with CURE® and discussed how mental health care in cancer has changed over the last two decades. “People are talking about (mental wellbeing) a lot more, and that will help (patients) going into treatments if (they) have the right mindset,” he said.
Recent years have brought on many steps forward for the treatment of LGBTQ+ patients with cancer, from provider trainings to outreach from National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers to help community outreach and inclusion, but more work is needed when it comes to establishing more welcoming spaces at providers’ offices, according to Scout, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Cancer Network.
Surgical techniques, prosthetics and patient-provider communication about reconstruction have improved over the last two decades and led to better lives — and appearances — for cancer survivors, according to Dr. Justin M. Sacks, chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Head over to CURE®’s 20th Anniversary Celebration page to read more about how the world of cancer care evolved over the last two decades.
For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.