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Technology Quarterly: Targeting Tumours

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Technology Quarterly: Targeting Tumours

In rich countries half of cancers are now survivable. And better understanding means that more cures are coming, says Natasha Loder.

The Economist,

15 min read
5 take-aways
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What's inside?

Emerging cancer treatments hold great promise, but cures still challenge doctors, one patient at a time.

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The Economist’s health care correspondent, Natasha Loder, delves into the status and future of cancer treatment in this incredibly thorough report. She focuses on the science, biotechnology and economics behind treating this deadly disease. While the subject matter is technical and complex, the piece is a fascinating look at one patient’s story, set against the background of extensive research and development of new strategies in the cancer world. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone in biotechnology, as well as physicians, scientists, and those whose lives have been touched by cancer.


Is there reason for optimism when it comes to cancer?

In some developed countries, nearly half the population will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. At the same time as the prevalence of cancer increases, more people survive. Innovative research, detection, and therapeutic strategies all give reason for optimism. In fact, treatments based on genetics and immunotherapy – a brand new approach that co-opts the body’s immune system to fight the disease – have had unprecedented success. Despite this good news, the poor, especially people living in the developing world, often lack access to basic treatment. Plus, some simple preventive measures – such as the human papilloma virus vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer – are not even fully in place in the United States.

What is the next for cancer diagnosis?

Cancer develops when the mechanisms that repair DNA in our bodies no longer outpace the amount of DNA damage that humans naturally sustain over a lifetime and the genes that stop cells from dividing or growing are too damaged to function. It can happen to anyone: Diane Milley, a Massachusetts school teacher, was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer...

About the Author

Natasha Loder is the health care correspondent for The Economist. She writes about biotechnology, medical science and the pharmaceutical industry. 

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