Cancer in the workplace: Innovative diagnostic devices and treatments

Cancer in the workplace: Innovative diagnostic devices and treatments

Cancer itself is a very broad based topic. There are various forms of cancer and many different types of diagnostics and treatments that are currently available. In our earlier articles, we have touched on various aspects of cancer:

- Key facts with statistics  
- Major causes
- The correlation between employment and the illness
- Risk reduction
- Types of treatment available
- Treatment cost overview
- Integrative and Preventive Medicine

So far, the treatment model that is proven by several sources to have the best results is through Integrative Medicine. Its approach is to combine conventional methods with both complementary and alternative therapies. It is very patient-centred, making use of natural products, modification of lifestyle, diet, a mind-body-spirit healing journey together with conventional treatments like chemotherapy.

Concept recap

Dr. ChatChai Sribundit (M.D) from Akesis Life Bangkok (akesisoncology.com) emphasises the important role that integrative medicine plays in today’s cancer management and in many cancer-care programs. As he mentioned in earlier articles, almost one third of cancer cases are actually preventable. Risk factors can be eliminated and implementing existing evidence-based preventive strategies are definitely the winning formula.

In the long run, preventive strategies in the form of regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk not only of cancer but many other primary medical conditions. In addition, a well-balanced lifestyle and healthy food provide both long and short term benefits. Apart from the above, Dr. Chatchai stands firmly by his 5 pillars consisting of medical intervention, diet & nutrition, physical therapy & exercise, emotional wellness and patient education.

Together with the basis of the 5 Pillars, early detection with timely and proper patient management can greatly reduce cancer risk. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.

Innovative Diagnosis and Treatments

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy remain a mainstream form of treatment whereas tissue biopsy and scans are general diagnostic tools commonly used in Conventional therapies for cancer. In some cases, a targeted approach is lacking and patients can be vulnerable to certain types of drugs. Recently, new treatments have been emerging to improve the traditional options in cancer treatment with poor prognosis. Areas like nanomedicine and extracellular vesicles along with advances in immunotherapy and nanotechnology are becoming a norm for the next generation of cancer diagnosis and treatments.

Diagnostics Innovations

Liquid Biopsy

Molecular targeting of specific oncogenic mutations in human cancer is now key for anti-cancer drug therapy as mutations lead to drug resistance. Therefore, the ability to detect and continuously monitor oncogenic mutations is important as it guides the use of targeted molecular therapies to improve long-term clinical outcomes in patients. Apart from direct sampling of cancer tissue by biopsy, oncogenic mutations are also detectable in circulating bodily fluids of patients which is a less invasive method.

Cancer biomarker discovery using DNA aptamers

Biomarkers are molecules able to indicate specific physiological states of cells. Identifying reliable biomarkers is essential for early diagnosis and adaptive treatment strategies. According to pub.vsc.org, aptamers are single-stranded oligonucleotides generated by an in vitro screening method called Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX). They can recognise their cognate targets with selectivity and affinity comparable to protein antibodies in cancer patients.

Treatments Innovations

Nanomedicine

Treating cancer with nanotechnology has become one of the emerging trends. Studies reveal that treating cancer by nanoparticle enhances the efficiency of the treatment and also minimises adverse effects. The property of nanoparticles in treating cancer is target specific. Nanoparticles also target uncontrolled cell proliferation.

Extracellular vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released by all cells within the tumour microenvironment, such as endothelial cells, tumour-associated fibroblasts, pericytes, and immune system cells. The EVs carry the load of parental cells formed of proteins and nucleic acids, that convey cell-to-cell communication and also suppress tumour progression. Due to longevity of vesicles within the circulation and their ability to cross blood–brain barriers, modification of these unique organelles offers the potential to create new biological-tools for cancer therapy.

Immunotherapy

These treatments help one’s immune system to find and attack cancer cells the same way it attacks bacteria and viruses. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Immunotherapy may work by maximising the immune system to prevent or slow down the growth of cancer and reduce the probability of spreading. Some examples of immunotherapy, include, NK Cell therapy, Cancer vaccines (prophylactic or therapeutic) and T-cell therapy.

Hyperthermia

Commonly use in Integrative medicine and in conjunction with radiation, hyperthermia is a non-invasive method of increasing tumour temperature to stimulate blood flow and improve oxygenation. This makes cancer cells more sensitive during radiation therapy. Hyperthermia helps address the limitations of radiation for many patients by effectively increasing the radiation dose without increasing in unwanted side effects. There are significant results which show the effect of hyperthermia approach in treating cancer.

Photosensitizer therapy

Longdom.org states that this treatment uses a drug called photosensitizer or photosensitizing agents. Agents and particular type of light are exposed at a specific wavelength. The specificity of wavelength depends on the production of oxygen. Oxygen destroys nearby Cancer cells. The wave length determines the distance travelled by the light into the body. The photosensitizer present in a tumour absorbs the light and produces oxygen which destroys surrounding cancer cells.

Laser therapy

This treatment uses light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation. Laser therapy for treating cancer includes special light beams instead of instruments. Laser therapy is normally given through an endoscopic tube. There are different types of laser therapies used for treatment of cancer. The Endoscope is inserted in the body to treat cancer or precancerous growth. Lasers can also be used to shrink or destroy tumours or precancerous growth.

Conclusions

The initial stage, which is most important, is the detection of cancer. Early detection could increase the possibility of cure and increases survival rates. However, poor prognosis due to lack of proper diagnosing methods and ineffective chemotherapeutic treatment is a common hurdle. As synthetic drugs cause many side effects, and cancer cells become resistant, more innovative treatment methods must be considered to give new hope for existing sufferers.

Author: Ezree Ebrahim, Business Development Consultant (Healthcare), Akesis Life by Absolute Health. For Further information, please contact: ezree.ebrahim@akesisoncology.com

Series Editor: Christopher F. Bruton, Executive Director, Dataconsult Ltd, chris@dataconsult.co.th. Dataconsult’s Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.


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