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Top Cancer Advances of 2012

Publication: Healthy Valley, McAllen

Some of the top cancer advances in 2012 include:

  • Two new therapies that delay progression of advanced breast cancer
  • Armed antibody or “smart bomb” to selectively deliver medicine to HER2-positive breast cancer cells, leaving healthy cells alone
  • Research finding that pre-operative chemotherapy and radiation improve survival for patients with esophageal cancer
  • A study showing screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy reduces colorectal cancer incidence and death rates
  • Research showing a new targeted treatment extends survival for patients with advanced prostate cancer

At the end of last year, The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued its report on the top cancer advances of 2012, many of which are the result of important research trials. ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer highlights major achievements in precision medicine, cancer screenings and other advancements. Achievements in cancer research are more important than ever for Texans. In 2012, the estimated number of new cancer cases increased to 110,470. That’s more than 300 Texans diagnosed with cancer every single day.

Research is an important part of the work underway at Texas Oncology. Suresh Ratnam, M.D., of Texas Oncology, was inspired to become an oncologist by the vast amount of scientific change and advancements in cancer care. Dr. Ratnam chose the Rio Grande Valley for the opportunity to work in a practice setting while being a part of a larger network that had a robust research program. Dr. Ratnam specializes in internal medicine with a sub-specialty in medical oncology and serves on the Pharmacy & Therapeutic Committee for The US Oncology Network. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"We treat all types of cancer from the most prevalent forms, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer, to any of more than 200 forms of cancer identified by the medical community. At Texas Oncology–McAllen, we take great pride in the care and compassion that our entire staff extends to our patients,” says Dr. Ratnam.

Beyond the leading-edge treatments described above, there is a more personalized approach to medicine that eliminates the “one size fits all” treatment model of the past, matching therapies with patients on a highly specific, sometimes even a genetic level. Many of the most dramatic advancements in cancer treatment recently have been associated with these so-called targeted therapies. “When I first started as an oncologist, we had one drug to treat colon cancer,” recalls Dr. Ratnam. “Now research has helped evolve the types of drugs and combinations Texas Oncology uses for treatment of colon cancer. For example, there are now biologic agents that, when used in combination with chemotherapy, have resulted in improved survival in patients.”

More recently, a new breast cancer treatment, “smart bomb” therapy, was unveiled and is a very targeted treatment of advanced breast cancer. As researchers continue to unravel the genetic framework of different cancer types, treatment with targeted therapies will expand, enhance and may someday even eliminate treatments now considered best-in-care.

The fight against cancer continuously evolves as technology advances and more is learned about the disease through clinical trials and other research. Over the years, there have been exciting advancements that offer powerful new treatment options to cancer patients. “Texas Oncology is committed to making these advancements available to patients in their own communities, close to the support of family and friends. In fact, through our affiliation with US Oncology Research, Texas Oncology has played a role in developing 43 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” shared Dr. Ratnam.

Dr. Ratnam, along with his medical team at Texas Oncology, offers these suggestions for living a healthy, prevention-oriented lifestyle:

  • Practice nutrition that will lower the risk of disease
  • Get cancer screenings
  • Engage in physical activity
  • Practice sun safety and
  • Quit smoking

These American Cancer Society diet recommendations contribute to better overall nutrition:

  • Substitute whole grains for refined or processed grains
  • Limit processed and red meats, foods preserved with salt, and fat
  • Consume no more than one alcoholic drink daily for women and two for men
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and
  • Drink plenty of water every day.

Dr. Suresh Ratnam is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–McAllen, 1901 South Second Street in McAllen, Texas.

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