Within the last month a new treatment for leukemia was released. Dr. John Voss, an oncologist from the Jeff Anderson Regional Cancer Center, said it is different from a regular chemotherapy drug.
"In other words it's a targeted drug. It's manufactured and made to specifically go after that cancer cell and hopefully leave all of the good cells alone," said Voss.
The new drug show signs of improvement. A study of the new drug shows that it does help increase survival time for cancer patients.
"In the studies that lead to its approval there was a large benefit," explained Dr. Voss. "The numbers were about 9 months without it, 14 or 15 months with it. So close to a doubling of survival. And this was a very sick patient group, patient population that got it."
Chemotherapy can still cause nausea, hair loss, and other problems. Dr. Voss said the main difference now are the better medicines and better supportive care.
"If somebody does get an infection, even the antibiotics now are better than say 20 or 30 years ago," said Dr. Voss.
Dr. Voss said in ten years there still may not be a cure for cancer. He hopes, however, that treatments for cancer patients will allow them to live longer and better lives.
"Where do we see cancer care going ten years from now? And I don't know if the word cure can be used, but with these new medicines, new treatments what we would try to do or like to do is to take something that without a cure before and hopefully prolong that person's life with the new treatments."
Dr. Voss said he would like to see cancer as a chronic disease where people are living with cancer not dying from it.