Technology advances in recent years have proven to be crucial in treating cancer. This disease, known to be one of the pathologies with the highest morbidity and mortality rates worldwide, continues to grow and remains one of the main challenges for the healthcare sector.
It is expected that tumor incidence rates worldwide to reach 30.2 million by 2040, approximately 10 million more than the cases registered in 2020.
However, despite the increasing incidence rates, survival rates have increased, and healthcare technology has been a critical factor behind this.
Innovation in resources and the development of new tools have improved the effectiveness of cancer treatment procedures and have become an excellent ally for early detection.
From nanorobots that can destroy tumors to avoid the most invasive surgeries to the possibility of detecting cancer in a single blood sample even in its early stages.
In any case, the role of technology is essential for the prevention and treatment of cancer, in particular, considering that 30% to 50% of cases can be prevented with early detection.
Different uses of technology in the fight against cancer
Technology has revolutionized the treatment of diseases in medicine, including cancer.
Cancer is one of the ten leading causes of death, a reason enough for funds like BNY Mellon Investment Management or Candriam Equities L Oncology Impact to show their concern and invest in intelligent treatments beyond medicines.
These technologies have proven more effective than conventional treatments and will open the door to a more optimistic picture of cancer in the coming years.
CRISPR-Cas9 is one of the most promising technologies for the treatment of cancer.
Even though it might seem unthinkable, CRISPR-Cas9 can make genetic modifications, i.e., it selects a specific gene and modifies it, improving the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
This technology is already being used, for example, in children with leukemia, where genes can be edited to teach them to “attack” tumor cells and thus reduce the impact of the disease.
Artificial intelligence has many valuable applications for cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
We can now see how machine learning algorithms can analyze images more quickly and accurately, determining the presence of cancer or its stage, even when humans cannot detect these patterns.
AI is not only beneficial for cancer imaging scans. The “digital twin” has gained tremendous popularity in recent years thanks to its many benefits.
Physicians are now using computers powered by AI technology to create virtual models of the patient, with which doctors can test treatments and propose therapies before giving patients the actual treatment.
In this way, healthcare professionals can assess the response of a personalized treatment on the patient before it is given to the patient, minimizing any harm that could be caused and ensuring tremendous success.
Telemedicine is one of the most significant medical advances, but telemedicine becomes an essential service when we talk about cancer patients. It was not until the pandemic that the true need for virtual healthcare was understood.
The telemedicine revolution will guarantee more significant levels of safety and allow patients to contact healthcare professionals and participate in clinical studies from any place and at any time.
This is one of the keys to reducing the number of patients in hospitals, establishing a priority for patients with health problems that cannot be addressed online, and ensuring that more specific and personalized monitoring processes are carried out.
Cryogenic electron microscopy
The quality of microscopic images has changed thanks to electron cryomicroscopy. This technology allows us to observe structures never before seen by the human eye and at a high resolution.
This technique includes the vitrification of biological samples with liquid nitrogen and their observation under a microscope to build 3D images and study their behavior.
Cryogenic electron microscopy allows scientists to learn how cancer cells multiply and interact with other cells or even how molecular structures respond to different cancer treatments.
Robotic surgery is another significant advance in surgery, thanks to the reduction of risks, bleeding, and pain.
It consists of robot-assisted surgery with mechanical arms that allow the operation to be performed with minimal incision.
Robotic surgery is of great importance in oncological surgeries, as it opens up a range of possibilities for risky interventions that, in the past, could not have been carried out due to lack of precision.
They have even made a breakthrough in postoperative recovery. For example, in the case of prostatectomy surgical procedures, what used to be considered an invasive surgery is now an outpatient surgery procedure, allowing patients to go home the day after surgery.
Early detection with biological markers
Biological markers are a hugely innovative alternative for the early detection of cancer.
One of cancer patients’ leading causes of mortality is late detection. The truth is that early cancer diagnosis is one of the best tools to save lives.
Biological markers are mainly used to detect cancer in its early stages.
There is also great interest in finding biological markers capable of predicting drug resistance during chemotherapy and thus avoiding failed treatments.
Innovative technologies for the fight against cancer
In the previous point, we discussed generic technologies essential during the fight against cancer. But it is also important to talk about other innovative technologies that have revolutionized the market and promise to change the unfolding and treatment of cancer completely.
First of all, it is essential to talk about nanotechnology, a field that has been very important for years due to the efficiency of its results. This technology has gone a step further with the creation of nanorobots capable of destroying tumors.
These nanorobots are made up of nano-porphyrins that travel throughout the body to detect cancer cells and inject the appropriate drugs to destroy them.
Another relatively recent advance addresses some of the dreaded side effects of chemotherapy.
Those who have suffered from them or seen their friends or relatives suffer from them know that the side effects of chemotherapy are devastating. Currently, chemotherapy selects both cancer and healthy cells, making no distinction.
This way of proceeding has an expiration date thanks to technology developed by a Canadian group. This technology effectively targets only cancer cells for chemotherapy.
Finally, if we discuss revolutionary technological advances against cancer, we must examine the possibility of detecting cancer with a single drop of blood.
At first glance, this technology, based on a gold particle nanochip, may seem like an insignificant discovery. But what is interesting is the possibility of detecting cancer in a single drop of blood and detecting it when it is still at a very early stage and has only affected very few cells.
As scientists develop and study new techniques, they offer us a more optimistic and encouraging picture.
So far, we have witnessed tremendous advances that have saved many lives, but the road still needs to be covered entirely.
Maintaining a solid investment in research and development is essential to end the significant disease of the 21st century.