New Developments in Cancer Treatment

Listen 48:45
A lab officer cuts a DNA fragment under UV light

A lab officer cuts a DNA fragment under UV light from an agarose gel for DNA sequencing as part of research to determine genetic mutation in a blood cancer patient, in Singapore, which prides itself as an advanced medical treatment and research hub. New research shows a sharp escalation in the weapons race against cancer, with several high-tech approaches long dreamed of but not possible or successful until now. At a weekend conference of more than 30,000 cancer specialists, scientists are reporting new tactics to spur the immune system to attack a broad range of cancers, new drugs that attack the disease while sparing healthy cells, and new ways to tell which patients will benefit from which drugs. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

It seems like every week, we hear about new breakthroughs in cancer treatment — new discoveries, new medications, new hopes for a cure. The war on cancer has been a slow and steady grind, with incremental progress that’s been built one study, one breakthrough at a time.

Behind each of those small but meaningful victories are years of unseen work — lifetimes spent studying specific cells, protein structures, gene mutations, and more.

On this episode, we take a look at some of the latest breakthroughs in cancer treatment, and the personal stories behind them. We hear about the tradeoffs with new lung cancer screenings, find out how immunotherapy is advancing, and talk with a veteran of cancer research about the big wins and grating frustrations.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Veteran oncologist and researcher Otis Brawley offers an overview of America’s war on cancer. Brawley, a ​​professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explains where we’ve made progress — and where we haven’t.
  • Screening people who are at high risk for lung cancer can lead to earlier detection, and much better outcomes. Dan Gorenstein from the podcast Tradeoffs looks into why not enough people are getting screened, and what doctors are doing to change that.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal