New And Unusual Cancer Therapies Explained

Updated: Wednesday, June 15, 2005 12:07:35 PM

Almost every day, newspapers and TV programs tout a new "potential cure" for cancer. Some involve therapies other than chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. This is a very complex subject which is constantly and radically changing every day. Perhaps you are confused about the terms you hear. I have tried to summarize the concepts into understandable terms without diluting the substance. The following sources were used in this summary: UT Lifetime Health Letter, 6/98, p.3,7; US News&World Report, 5/18/98, p.56-8, 63-5; Scientific American, Summer 1996 Special Issue; Consumer's Digest, 4/98, p.67-70; NCI's free booklet, The Immune System--How It Works; the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, 8/98; and numerous others.

Key concepts to remember as you read : almost none of the following theories or concepts are considered useful when used alone. Most are combined with others of the newer concepts or used after traditional therapy, such as aggressive de-bulking surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. All are considered experimental and still in the clinical trial phase. In my search of clinical trials using these theories, with rare exception could I find only trials in phase I and phase II. At the time of my search, very few were phase III.

As you read each section, notice that I started with basic concepts to enhance understanding. Then I have applied those concepts to cancer and, specifically for ovarian cancer. If you know this already, my apologies. If I muddied the waters even more, more apologies. Because most of the therapies are used in combination, each explanation may overlap and discuss different theories at the same time. If one theory is initially not very clear, go on to other theories and then come back to theories and then come back to the first. I also recommend that you take this little bits at a time. This field is changing fast, so do your won homework, using the terms you see here to help you identify clinical trials using these categories of therapies. This is not a complete listing.


Gene Therapy

Immunotherapy, Biologic Therapy, and Biotherapy


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