If your reading this, you probably have been given a potential cancer diagnosis or know someone who has, either way, it’s going to be a show stopping moment, let yourself breath and absorb..
Don’t assume the worst.
Remember, we have a worldwide community who is not only focused on cancer research, but focused on innovating and moving faster and faster to find the right personalized treatment options for cancer patients.
In the US we are fortunate to have the government funded National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the privately funded American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) whose sole mission is to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication and collaboration. In addition to the NCI and AACR, there are many other cancer organizations with similar purpose. You can find a list of national and international organizations here.
Educate yourself. Information is Power.
There is an enormous amount of information out there for physicians, researchers, and lay people alike. If you are not a scientist or a physician, here are some basic resources to get you started.
AACR Annual Cancer Progress Report - an educational document used by Congress and the public to understand where we currently are in the fight against cancer, and what advances have been made in the previous 12 months. This report is full of very useful information, including stories from cancer survivors, it is worthy of review. To view kidney related topics within the report, use Ctrl. F and type kidney in search box, hit enter.
NCI Kidney Cancer Research News - This webpage compiles recent research as well as new FDA approved therapies for kidney cancer.
Cancer Research and Treatment Advances
There have been many positive advancements in the last few years in the area of cancer research and treatment, particularly in 2016:
FDA Fast Track - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a process to expedite the review of drugs to treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need.
Impact example: Nivolumab (Opdivo) is a fast-tracked drug that is now used for treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney disease. See page 85 of the AACR 2016 Cancer Progress Report to hear an incredible story about the positive outcome in one patients’ life from using this fast tracked immunotherapy.
Rapid advances: From Aug 2015-July 2016:FDA approved 13 new anti-cancer therapeutics and 11 new uses for previously approved anti-cancer therapies.
AACR GENIE Project – A data sharing collaboration between hospitals and cancer centers in the US, Canada and Europe. This international, multiphase project brings together genetic data and clinical data from multiple cancer centers around the world to create a GENIE registry.
What does it mean for the patient? A Dr. will be able to access the GENIE registry and identify patients with a similar genetic profile to their patient and see what treatments were successful or not for that patient, ultimately providing more directed therapies. This data can improve clinical decision making and catalyze new clinical and translational research.
NCI Cancer Moonshot - A Presidential directive, the Cancer Moonshot’s mission is to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer — to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years by bringing together the government and private sectors to provide patients with new and improved treatment options, more sensitive screening measures, prevention strategies, information sharing for medical decisions, increasing tools for community care providers and providing new ways to track and share health information.
Clearly a big task, but many of these efforts are already underway, additional government funding and a joining of efforts will help make this moonshot a reality.
Most importantly. Communicate and ask questions of your doctor as you determine the best treatment options, and make a point to keep in touch with family and friends, they are your best support system!
Some terminology you might hear:
Precision medicine: the right treatment for the right patient at right time at right dose and for the right duration for that patient. Based on genetic data.
Immunotherapies: Harnesses the patient’s own immune center to fight cancer the way it fights its own infections.