Surgical treatment involves surgical excision of a tumor or an entire organ but the propensity of cancer cells to microscopically metastases makes it effective only in localized small cancers such as breast and prostate tumors. Radiation therapy can come in the form of radiotherapy, X-ray therapy and irradiation and uses ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy involves the treatment of cancer with cytotoxic drugs that can have many effects specifically geared towards the elimination of cancer cells. One of the effects of the drugs is to interfere with cell division by hindering the duplication of DNA and the separation of chromosomes. The anticancer drugs travel through the bloodstream making it useful for cancers that have spread. Monoclonal antibody therapy involves the administration of antibodies that bind to a protein on the surface of the cancer cells.
Cancer treatment depends on factors such as location, degree of severity, grade of tumor and the general state of the patient. In essence, the goal of cancer treatment is to remove or destroy the malignant cells without excessive damage to the body. This is easier said than done. Indeed, the treatments mentioned are far from being the panacea for cancer as they are severely limited not only by financial challenges but also of scientific obstacles that makes it very hard for scientists to make a breakthrough in the field of cancer research.
The aim of this paper is to determine the challenges facing the development of a cure of cancer. While a discussion on financial constraints would be provided, I will be focusing more on the theoretical and scientific aspects that inhibit the development of cancer cure. Possible solutions for overcoming developing cancer cure that are based on studies will then be discussed and explored to determine the principles of how it would work.
2.0 The Current State of Cancer Research
2.1 Development Processes in Clinical Studies
Developing a new drug is an expensive, time-consuming process that usually takes ten years to push through. Development and determination of effectiveness of possible cancer treatment usually comes in the form clinical trials. Clinicaltrials areresearch studies wherein the treatment is applied to human patients to determine if it is effective. Regulating bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversee medical and ethical panels that review the research methods and ethics of the clinical trial to be undertaken and monitor the trial phases. The standard phases are the following (Coleman, 1998):
Synthesis and Purification (1st and 2nd year) - researchers identify a substance that may be useful as a drug.
Animal Testing (1st and 2nd year) - the substance is tested on animals to obtain preliminary information on whether the drug is safe and how it is metabolized in the body.
Phase 1 Clinical trials (3rd year) - patients who have advanced cancer and are not helped by any other known treatments are recruited for the trial. They would be subjected to an analysis for the best dosage and delivery method of a new drug treatment.
Phase 2 Clinical trials (4th and 5th year) - the drug is tested with groups of patients each having a different type of cancer. This is done to determine what types of cancer can the