World Cancer Research Day – September 24th
World Cancer Research Day is observed to highlight the importance of cancer research in the field of cancer treatment. The vision of World Cancer Research Day is to raise awareness among citizens, institutions and world leaders of the importance of cancer research and thank the extraordinary contributions of cancer researchers worldwide. Statistics prove that improvements in the field of cancer treatment due to cancer research has resulted in a vast improvement in the survival rates and decline in death rates. We at ZenOnco.io, join the cancer organisations around the world to promote cancer research on the causes, methods of prevention, improved treatment methods, and tests to aid the early detection of cancer.
According to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IACR), cancer will be a leading cause of death in the coming years, with approximately 21.6 million of the population being affected with cancer each year and 13 million deaths expected by 2030. It means that by 2030, one person would be diagnosed with cancer every 1.5 seconds while one person will die every 2 seconds. These figures are a cause of grave concern, and without improvements in the field of cancer research, this could become a reality.
What is cancer research?
Cancer research is the studying of different aspects of cancer to develop safe and effective methods in order to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat and ultimately cure cancer. It encompasses of a variety of interdisciplinary areas of research such as chemistry, medical science, biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, medical physics, epidemiology and biomedical engineering. The innovative treatment procedures that we see today are a result of years of research and discoveries made by scientists and researchers over the decades. Day by day, cancer is becoming more and more curable, but the number of cases is steadily on the rise. Even with the advanced treatment methods, the early diagnosis still holds the key for a better prognosis, and thus cancer awareness is the first step towards defeating the disease.
Types of cancer research
Cancer research can be broadly categorised into four types:
- Basic research: Referred to as lab research or preclinical research where studies are done on cells, molecules of animals or genes to gain insights about the disease at a cellular level and direct changes needed in the experiments according to the results.
- Translational research: An approach which seeks to speed up the discoveries in the laboratory to clinical practice.
- Clinical research: The stage at which trials are conducted on a group of patients to find out how the body reacts to the treatment before it is produced on a large scale. They study the application of the treatments and procedures in patients and conclude whether the medicine is safer or better than the existing one in the market.
- Population research: The study of patterns of occurrence of cancer, and causes and risks among a particular group of people. Population scientists, known as epidemiologists, study the patterns and arrive at the conclusion, based on which risk factors, causes, life spans, survival rates are calculated enabling the scientists to put their focus on the important areas.
Importance of cancer research
The public is often left unaware of the importance of cancer research as the steps of the research are often done away from the public limelight, and hence the people only see the end product. But studying the history of research, we can find how it has brought groundbreaking revelations to aid in the defeat of the disease. A surprising example is the case of smoking. Such was the popularity of smoking in the early half of the twentieth century that doctors were suggesting smoking to pregnant women to ease their stress during the initial months of pregnancy. But all this changed due to research done by Ernst Wynder, Evarts Graham and Richard Doll, who found out that smoking was the leading cause of lung cancer. Tobacco has now been identified as the most important risk factor of cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths around the world.
Some important milestones in cancer research
- It all started in 1775 when Percival Pott discovered a correlation between the exposure to chimney soot and squamous cell carcinoma in chimney sweepers.
- In 1903, the first radiation therapy was successfully administered to eradicate basal cell carcinoma in two patients.
- In 1928, the Pap smear was introduced by George Papanicolaou to help detect cervical cancer, which is still used to this day.
- In 1941, hormonal therapy was discovered by Charles Huggins.
- In 1950, Ernst Wynder, Evarts Graham and Richard Doll found out that smoking causes cancer.
- In 1953, the first complete cure of a solid tumour was done by chemotherapy.
- In 2010, the first human cancer treatment vaccine, made from the patient’s own immune system, was approved.
Immunotherapy is a field where the body’s natural immune response is used to help find and destroy the cancer cells. Cancer research in this field is showing remarkable success, giving us bright hopes for the future.
Need for Awareness
Cancer research is a continuous work where the results will be noticeable mostly in the long term. For this reason, it is imperative not to stop on the way and keep on funding research to get more advanced treatment methods in the near future. Cancer research will deliver breakthroughs and help and support a large number of patients to ease the challenges of their treatment and further help with other tangible benefits such as bringing down the cost and time period of treatment. The signs of these improvements are already visible with cancer survival rates nearing 50% from 23% in 1990, but there is still a long way to go. As a society, we must continue to support and anchorage researchers who are dedicated to improving and changing the lives of patients all around the world. To create a future without cancer, the time to act is now.
To read more about the various aspects of cancer research, go to our website of ZenOnco.io. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer recently, and need guidance on treatment or have any doubts or queries, please call us at ZenOnco.io on +91 99 30 70 90 00.