John McCain has been in the recent news due to his diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer. McCain and his family have been reviewing various treatment options with doctor at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
Doctors took a tissue sample from a blood clot above McCain’s left eye last Friday revealing the 80 year-old Arizona senator’s cancer.
Glioblastoma has historically been a difficult type of cancer to treat with the average survival time with malignant tumors being around 14 months.
The first approach to deal with the disease is to offer a combination of radiation and chemotherapy to try and get it under control. The near future see’s many new types of treatment possibilities for this debilitating illness.
Several clinical trials have been conducted around the U.S. in the field of immunotherapies. A type of treatment consisting of vaccines and specifically targeted treatments in addition to traditional forms of treatment. There are currently 274 glioblastoma multiforme studies across the country according to the National Institutes of Health.
Although these treatment options are not yet approved or available for the general public, research has shown it to be quite effective. The only issue currently residing with the treatment is its unknown cost.
Specific targeted therapies could help to block the disease from spreading by targeting and interfering with the specific molecules that are involved in the tumors growth and progression. Thee therapies may sound promising, but they have been unexpectedly disappointing, said Dr. Eric Holland, the senior vice president and director of the human biology division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Researcher Center in Seattle.
Immunotherapies have however been shown to work extremely well against certain cancers. Those certain cancers being melanoma and lung cancer. The only issue is the amount of research currently done on the treatment.
Since it uses the bodies own immune system to recognize and attack the disease, it makes it easier for the success rate to be higher. However, there can be several allergic reactions to the treatment.