• Question: will there ever be a cancer treatment? if so how do you make it persific as cancer changes?

    Asked by myersh to Daniela, Hannah, Ian, Jono, Mark on 25 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Daniela Plana

      Daniela Plana answered on 25 Jun 2013:

      Hi myersh!

      Although I do think there will be cancer treatment, I don’t think it will be a general one. As things currently are going, it seems that different cancers will be and are indeed treated differently. Some if them already have very effective treatment.

      I do hope it comes soon for many other forms and there is a lot of research going on in this area!


    • Photo: Mark Hodson

      Mark Hodson answered on 25 Jun 2013:

      Hi mysersh,

      there are already some cancer treatments. I know people who have had cancer, been treated and recovered. Because the different cancers affect different organs it is unlikely that there will ever be a single treatment for all cancers. Each cancer needs research and development of its own cure.



    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 25 Jun 2013:

      Hi myersh,
      Yes definitely. They have already found a cure to stop cancer from spreading around the body. Now all we need to do if find a cure for cancer completely. However, this doesn’t mean people will never have cancer. A cure is a treatment, it doesn’t prevent it.

      The longer we live and the more medicine we have, the more people live and have babies. So this means a person with cancer and carries cancer genes (these people don’t have cancer but their DNA could carry some) will pass it on to their babies. So more and more people could have cancer in their DNA, waiting for something to happen which can cause the cancer to come out and affect them.

      We only treat cancer when it is spotted, so if we ever found a cure for cancer, people would still have to have it to get the medicine. But as soon as they have treatment, they will live perfectly. I hope in the future, our cure for cancer, will be like taking medicine for a cold (something you don’t think about because you know it will go away with medicine).

      I think the cure for cancer is really really close! 😀

    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 25 Jun 2013:

      Hi myersh,

      I think there will be treatments for cancer eventually, yes. There’s quite a bit of excitement amongst some scientists right now actually because of the Naked Mole Rat. Have you heard of this fella? He’s seriously ugly!

      The Naked Mole Rat, despite not being a looker, is one awesome rodent! It can survive breathing in toxic air, it can see in complete darkness and it never gets cancer despite living for 27 years, which is WAY longer than any other rodents. Scientists have found out how it holds off cancer and they think they might be able to use this to help humans.

      Humans have 1 protein called p27 that stops us getting cancer. But the naked mole rat also has 1 called p16, so it has 2 proteins helping protect it. It’ll be interesting to see if we can find a way to use a version of that extra gene to help humans!

      Also, last week, scientists said that they’d found a gooey sugar called HMW-HA that the Naked Mole Rat has in its skin. If they removed the sugar, cancer could develop. So, this may be really important in stopping cancer. We already use the sugar to treat arthritis (sore joints) so might be able to use it to treat cancer at some point in the future.

      As for making a treatment specific as the cancer changes, hopefully this will mean we don’t need to if we can catch it early enough. If the cancer has already started to spread though, it becomes far more difficult to deal with. At the moment, there’s no way that I know of to stop it more effectively than with chemotherapy. Hopefully, the Naked Mole Rat still has a few more secrets that we can learn though!

      Hope that helps,