In the News

There have been several headlines in the news over the last week about breakthroughs in cancer treatment, for example:

‘Revolutionary new cancer treatment makes patients SIX TIMES more likely to survive’

‘I’m one of the first patients in the world to be saved by DNA cancer treatment’

‘Thousands of cancer patients can DOUBLE their survival chances with new treatment’

How do these headlines affect you?

I’m never really sure about how to react to them as experience has taught me that the story underneath the headline rarely meets the expectations set by the headline. That’s often because the treatment may still be at the early trial stage, and although the results are promising, it will be several years before this treatment is offered routinely. Very often, the treatment is for one specific cancer – not a general cure-all. And sometimes I’m frankly disappointed, that for all the fanfare, life expectancies are only slightly increased by these new innovations. And sadly, for many of us and our loved ones, these treatments and cures will come far too late.

However, these stories are tantalizing; they do raise my spirits. It delights me to know that great efforts are being made, and vast amounts of money is being found, to discover new treatments, more targeted and less damaging treatments, and cures. Cancer research UK says, “In the 1970s, less than a quarter of people with cancer survived. But over the last 40 years, survival has doubled – today half will survive. Our ambition is to accelerate progress and see three-quarters of people surviving the disease within the next 20 years.”

And so – where does that leave us? Disappointed, frustrated, irritated, or hopeful? I suppose I will continue to take these headlines with a pinch of salt. But I am also grateful and hopeful, that thanks to these innovations, my children and grandchildren will not experience cancer as a terrifying and deadly illness.

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