Welcome back to my blog guys, my last blog post was an eye-opener for me. I know that I say this at the beginning of each post; however, something amazing happens every time.
After writing my last post, two weeks later, I was informed that some of the suggestions in that post were actually part of the deal that the government recently signed with other healthcare providers. It was not only an eye-opener but it really inspired me and demonstrates the power in writing rather than just speaking about it.
Moving forward, what do I see as the future of oncology? What do I see oncology becoming? What technology will be used? What clinical trial will be the new standardised protocol and what new chemotherapy drugs or modalities will become the norm? These were just some of the questions I found myself asking.
I recently came across an article by KPMG’s global strategy article titled “The Future of Oncology – A focused approach to winning in 2030.”
The article highlighted a few facts that are worth knowing, facts such as:
- Globally, that oncology has the highest cost than any other disease which means there is a higher demand for increased successful treatments
- Insurance companies, self-paying patients and systems that the NHS are moving towards regarding value-based pricing for treatments, which simply means treatments that will be priced on their benefits and their effectiveness
- Advancement in technology is likely to increase in oncology more than other diseases. According to Cancer Research UK, in 2018 on a worldwide level, there were 17 million new cases of cancer, 9.6 million deaths from cancer and 33% of cancer cases linked to exposure to tobacco smoke
- The three main causes of cancer are: lifestyle choices (smoking, diet, alcohol), family history (genetics) and environmental (asbestos), and tackling these causes will ultimately reduce the prevalence of cancer worldwide including in low resource countries
-There are 1 billion adult smokers worldwide, and infections in countries are becoming prevalent; indicating that this is a contributory factor for cancer cases. The UK is ranked high in both incidence and mortality (death) of cancer cases; it is estimated that there will be 27.5 million new cases of cancer each year by 2040
These are all shocking statistics and it is saddening to know that these are not expected to reduce in the future. These statistics are a person’s mum, dad, uncle, auntie and loved ones that will have to go through this dreaded disease again which can be avoided by taking necessary action to prevent this.
Therefore, what is the future of cancer care that I see or what do I want cancer care to look like in 2030?
I believe the government should invest heavily in preventative measures such as raising awareness especially towards lifestyle choices, e.g. smoking. We cannot underestimate the power of education within the community; an investment in raising awareness will force people to be more conscious and aware of how they choose to live their life, with more awareness of screening procedures available.
Testimonials of cancer survivors should be shown more so the general public are aware of how much a cancer diagnosis changes an individual’s life, emotionally, physically, mentally and financially. Despite the abundance of information available about cancer, most people are still very much unaware but they genuinely want to be informed. The increase in awareness will help tackle the “lifestyle” cause of cancer to a great extent.
The future of cancer care that I want to see is Cyber-knife, MRI-Linac and proton therapy machines becoming the standard treatment for radiotherapy cancer treatments. But why?
MRI-Linac allows better tumour, soft tissue delineation and real-time tumour tracking, whilst proton therapy helps to treat young adult patients with less side effects and even rare tumours without travelling outside the UK. Cyberknife is effective in tumours that are inoperable or even “hard to reach”, and serves as a better alternative to surgery with less recovery time. Currently, we have very few MRI-Linac in the UK and in the world; similarly, there are currently only two hospitals with proton therapy machines in the UK. More investment needs to be deployed into research and development in relation to these machines and where cancer care in the UK is constantly at the cutting edge and value based treatment is constantly offered to patients.
I believe that chemotherapy drugs will be improved to the extent that patients might not have to visit the hospital as often. Drugs will be improved to have less toxicity and harsh side effects. Immunotherapy and molecular therapy will be the norm treatment than just certain treatments. I believe genomics and panomics could possibly be the cure for cancer, especially in patients with a family history of cancer because the gene-editing techniques will provide solutions to abnormal genes leading to cancer. Lastly, more investments need to push clinical trials so there are more diverse interventions for an individual’s disease, and individualised/personalised care for every cancer patient.
In conclusion, I believe if these changes are implemented, the future of cancer care will mean a lesser need for in-patients/intensive care, reduced end of life care, less time in hospitals, and an increase in survival rates whereby health systems will not have to rush or keep repeating the same treatment that has been around for decades. This is the future of cancer care that I see.