From Basel Yanes, MD, Medical Oncologist and Hematologist at OHC

March 28, 2019

Every day the doctors at OHC are attacking cancer with leading edge approaches and the newest treatments while constantly searching for the best solution to beat cancer. This is how OHC has been able to contribute, first-hand, to a decline in cancer death rates – by providing education regarding improvements in early detection, offering advanced cancer treatments, and encouraging patients to make lifestyle changes.

One area where we’ve seen the rates decrease is lung cancer. In the U.S., lung cancer deaths dropped by 48 percent among men from 1990 to 2016, and 23 percent among women from 2002 to 2016. One reason is many people have stopped smoking. Another is the result of a relatively new screening – a low-dose CT Scan that catches lung cancer earlier, when treatment offers a better survival rate. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends this screening for adults aged 55 – 80 who have a 30-pack per year smoking history (smoke a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years) and currently smoke or adults who have quit within the past 15 years.

But not all lung cancers are a result of tobacco use. Some patients develop lung cancer due to a gene mutation, environmental factors or other causes.

For most patients diagnosed with lung cancer, OHC offers immunotherapy, which is having an astounding effect on lung cancer. With immunotherapy, we’re helping lung cancer patients not only survive, but enjoy a good quality of life. Immunotherapy drugs help our own immune system do its job to attack and destroy cancer cells. OHC was one of the leading clinical trial sites to contribute to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of these drugs. OHC also uses targeted medicine, also known as personalized medicine, to identify the genetic makeup of a tumor and how it grows. We use this information to customize treatment specific to each patient’s condition. This approach has been very effective in treating patients with lung cancer.

There has also been a significant decrease in prostate cancer death rates, which have dropped by 51 percent among men from 1993 to 2016. This is another cancer that has screening options for early detection and treatment. For men diagnosed with the disease, OHC radiation oncologists offer patients one of the best treatments for prostate cancer: CyberKnife. CyberKnife is a nonsurgical, painless technology that can reduce or eliminate certain lesions and tumors with pinpoint, laser-like accuracy.

While we celebrate the declines in cancer deaths, there are some cancers in which death rates have been on the rise in recent years. One of those is pancreatic cancer, which increased 0.3 percent per year among men during this same time period. In theory, pancreatic cancer should be waning, thanks to the dramatic reduction in smoking that began in the 1970s. But sadly, a new source is contributing to the increase: soaring rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are also risk factors.

OHC’s clinical research team is looking to newer, personalized or targeted medicine therapies to help treat pancreatic cancer. The team is currently evaluating the drug FOLFOX, combined with an immunotherapy drug or by itself, to treat pancreatic cancer. OHC offers clinical trials so patients can have access to these promising treatments sooner rather than later.

We have no plans to ever stop educating people about cancer prevention, screenings and lifestyle changes. And we will always be at the forefront of the newest treatments options. That’s because we intend to fight cancer until the death rates reach zero because we’ve stopped the disease once and for all.

For more information about OHC treatments and services, please visit this page. OHC also provides second opinions. To request an appointment for a second opinion, please click here or call 1-800-710-4674.

Sources: American Cancer Society, LiveScience

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