World Cancer Research Day is observed on September 24th to highlight the importance of cancer research in the field of cancer treatment. The idea of World Cancer Research Day is to increase awareness among citizens, institutions, and world influential personalities about the importance of cancer research and thank the contributions of cancer researchers worldwide. Statistics prove that improvements in the field of cancer treatment due to cancer research have resulted increase in the survival rates and decline in death rates. We at ZenOnco.io, connect with cancer organizations around the world to promote cancer research on the causes, methods of prevention, enhanced treatment methods, and tests to help the early detection of cancer.
According to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IACR), cancer will be a primary cause of death in the coming years, with approximately 21.6 million of the population being affected with this disease each year and 13 million deaths expected by 2030.
As per this data, by 2030, one person would be diagnosed with cancer every 1.5 seconds while one person will die every 2 seconds. These statistics are a cause of serious concern, and without development in the field of cancer research, this could not become a reality.
What is cancer research?
Cancer research is the study of different characteristics of cancer to develop safe and effective methods to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat and ultimately cure cancer. It incorporates a variety of interdisciplinary areas of research such as chemistry, medical science, biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, medical physics, epidemiology, and biomedical engineering.
Day by day, cancer is becoming curable. The credit for this goes to the innovative treatment procedures of years of research and discoveries made by scientists and researchers over the decades.
Number of cancer patients are increasing. In spite of the advanced treatment methods, the early diagnosis is 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 categorized 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
Cancer researches are often done away from the public limelight, and hence the people only see the end product. But, by 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 branch where body’s natural immune response is used to help find and destroy cancer cells. Cancer research in this field is showing remarkable success, giving us bright hopes for the future.
Need of awareness for World Cancer Research Day
Cancer research is a continuous work where we will get noticeable result in the long run. So, it is imperative not to stop on the way. Cancer research will bring innovative result to ease the challenges related to its treatment. Researches are on to cut down the cost 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. 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, this is the time to act.