There has been some exciting news in the media this morning about detecting brain cancer before it even develops.
Its super to wake up and hear some positive news about how we can tackle the most aggressive form of brain cancer – glioblastoma (GBM). And what’s interesting about this research is the innovative approach. This landmark study has identified that GBM could be identified and eradicated long before people fall ill with it. This study, the Pan-Cancer Wide Analysis of Whole Genome Consortium, has discovered that genetic changes appear to happen many years before the disease appears, so that in the future a sample from the patient’s blood could be analysed to see if the person was going to get the disease. Drugs could then treat it and eradicate it before it even starts. This could help the growing population of people who develop a GBM later in life.
Yes – this is tantalizing and its exciting to see how such data can be used. But we are a long way off this becoming a reality – it’s still science fiction.
Applying this to real life
In the clinical setting, we’re not sure how this would work. How would the screening programme work? Would you screen whole populations, and risk people being told they were in the category of developing cancer later in life, but as yet we don’t have the treatments for them? What if you were screened and another condition was discovered? People could end up living with the stress and anxiety of knowing they were going to develop a life limiting disease for which there is no treatment, let alone a cure.
Whilst it is encouraging to see data being used globally to develop approaches to an illness which we know is devastating, there is still a long way to go.
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