A new survey has found that most people are unaware that major progress has been made when it comes to the treatment of cancer. The survey, commissioned by the Institute for Cancer Research in London, found that only 28 percent of respondents thought that major progress is being made in the fight against cancer. The new poll also found that only 26 percent of respondents believed that cancer can be controlled long-term. In comparison, 46 percent of people said they believed heart disease can be managed in the long-term, and 77 percent said the same for diabetes.
Experts believe that positive advancements in treatment are being “masked” by those focusing exclusively on a breakthrough to eliminate the disease. Dr. Olivia Rossanese, from The Institute of Cancer Research, said, “Curing cancer will always be the Holy Grail of researchers and patients, but focusing exclusively on this risks masking the dramatic progress we are making against the disease, where even patients with advanced cancer are increasingly experiencing disease control in the long term with a good quality of life.”
Survival time from cancer has roughly doubled in the past decade, according to the American Cancer Society. Over 70 percent of people now survive the disease for five years or more after diagnosis, up from under 50 percent in the mid-1970s. The average patient now lives more than 10 years after diagnosis.
If you are a person who has lost someone to the disease, accepting that overall progress has been made can be difficult. There are successful treatments available, but only for some types of cancer. There are no effective treatments for people with many types of cancer and the treatments that are available are hard, long, and toxic, coming with a host of unpleasant side effects.
Rossanese said, “By focusing overwhelmingly on cure, treatment has tended to be as aggressive as possible but in some patients there is a risk that that could drive cancer evolution, and the return of the disease in a more dangerous and less treatable form. We believe cancer should no longer be a case of ‘cure or nothing’. We know there’s a growing population of people who are living longer and better with cancer and that is something to celebrate.”