Cancer Diagnosis Should Not Automatically be Viewed as a Death Sentence, says Expert from a Top American Hospital

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Ahead of World Cancer Day, Cleveland Clinic oncologist points to considerable breakthroughs in treatments but highlights disproportionate focus and funding for different forms of the disease

Dr. Suneel Kamath, a medical oncologist at Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland, Ohio: Patients with all forms of cancer have increased treatment choices compared to previous decades, said an expert at a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic, marking World Cancer Day on 4 February.

Dr. Suneel Kamath, a medical oncologist at Cleveland Clinic, explains that while chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are common treatments, there have been breakthroughs in immunotherapy, precision targeted therapy, hormone therapy, and cell therapy.

He says, “As we mark World Cancer Day, one of the biggest misconceptions is that cancer is a death sentence. That is no longer the case – we have seen, for example, patients with stage four breast or colorectal cancer receiving treatments that can add years to their lives. Three cancer treatments or prevention strategies in particular are seeing strong momentum – immunotherapy, which supports the immune system; targeted therapies that shut off genetic pathways to prevent cancer cell growth; and vaccines, which can prevent certain cancers.”

According to the Union for International Cancer Control, which organizes World Cancer Day, one-third of cancers could be prevented, and another one-third could be cured if they were detected and treated early. The body reports that more than 10 million people globally die from cancer every year, which could rise to 13 million by 2030.

Dr. Kamath also emphasized the need for greater focus on many common or highly lethal cancers, including lung, colorectal, pancreatic, ovarian, and endometrial cancers, which are underfunded relative to their burdens on society.

In the United States, for example, breast cancer receives 33 percent of the total annual revenue donated towards cancers, and 22 percent of the total cancer advocacy organizations promote breast cancer, according to a recent study that Dr. Kamath led. Pediatric cancers, leukemia, and lymphoma have most of the remaining cancer funding and advocacy groups.

However, other highly prevalent or deadlier cancers such as cervical, endometrial, liver and bile duct, MDS, and sarcoma each saw less than 0.5 percent of the total funds donated to cancer charities.

Dr. Kamath concluded: “World Cancer Day is a key moment to mark the major successes in innovative treatments, but also to highlight the disparities in cancer advocacy and research funding. While breast cancer, pediatric cancers, and leukemia have the largest number of advocacy organizations and are best funded, deadlier types of cancer such as lung, colorectal, and pancreatic need more funding and advocacy to support millions of patients around the world.”

About Cleveland Clinic:

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries.