A Turning Point in Cancer

“The narrative has been incubating for many years, but in recent days we are witnessing some extraordinary progress in treating and monitoring cancer. The convergence of genomics of the cancer—be it from the person’s DNA or tumor directly or the blood (known as liquid biopsy)—matched with the appropriate therapy is leading to outcomes that are being described as “unheard-of” by expert oncologists. This represents the essence of individualized medicine, whereby understanding the unique biologic basis of a person’s cancer can lead to highly accurate and effective treatment, and also avoid the toxicity of classical chemotherapeutic agents.”

-Eric Topel, “A turning point in cancer.” erictopol.substack.com. June 10, 2022

This kind of sums up what I have been seeing a lot of lately. Almost daily, I see reports from randomized trials, tabletop science, and other areas that indicate a lot of progress is being made in the treatment of cancer.

Histotripsy: Solid Tumor Oblation With Ultrasound

“Early tests suggested that the sound waves successfully decimated up to 75 percent of liver tumor material in the rat bodies, which enabled the little critters’ immune systems to jump into action and beat the leftover cancerous tissues out of existence, preventing reemergence…

…The new treatment is called “histotripsy,” and it noninvasively directs ultrasound waves so that the target tissue is mechanically destroyed — and with millimeter precision. This novel technique is presently being deployed in a human liver cancer trial in both the U.S. and Europe.

This is significant because a great number of clinical situations preclude direct (read: invasive) interventions, because of the size of the tumor, its location, or stage. But this new study looked at reducing only a portion of the cancerous bodies, leaving behind much of the tumor intact. This method also enabled the team of UM researchers to exhibit the effectiveness of the novel approach in less than ideal conditions.

-Brad Bergan, “A new technique successfully fried up to 75 percent of tumors using ultrasound.” Interesting Engineering. April 18, 2022.

Lots of interesting developments with ultrasound. There’s point of care ultrasound, which is bringing ultrasound imaging into the clinic. And now, there’s an interventional technique for solid tumors. Really interesting.