Cancer treatment is expensive. The cost of treating cancer patients is rising. Whilst newer and more effective cancer drugs are being developed, the cost of these new drugs can be as much (2) $10,000 a month.
The Costs of Cancer
In rich, developed countries, paying for cancer treatment is proving difficult for many patients. In developing countries, where advanced technology, electricity, medical professionals and basic medical resources are in short supply, cancer treatment and therapy is not a viable option. As a consequence, cancer patients in developing countries are more likely to die from the disease as those in developed nations.
With many developing countries unable to afford expensive drugs to treat cancer, cheaper, less complex, portable and, ideally, non-surgical treatments for cancer are required.
Researchers from Duke University are making inroads in making more inexpensive cancer treatment a realistic option for countries that cannot afford expensive cancer drugs.
The researchers have developed an ethanol-based gel. The gel is injected directly into a specific type of tumor. When tested on hamsters, the gel gave a 100% success rate when injected into a tumor, known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Injecting ethanol into tumors is nothing new. ‘Ethanol ablation’ has been used to treat a type of liver cancer and has a similar success rate to surgery. The ethanol destroys proteins in the cells, dehydrating them and eventually causing the cells to die. The cost of these ethanol injections is just $5 per treatment.
A 100% Cure Rate
According to a (3) report in the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), the Duke University researchers are well aware of ethanol ablation. However, they are also aware of the limitations of this inexpensive cancer treatment.
One of the principle limitations of ethanol ablation is that it can only destroy tumors which are surrounded by a fibrous capsule. Another leading drawback of the treatment is that, due to requiring large volumes of ethanol, it can potentially damage other surrounding tissue. Ethanol ablation also requires multiple treatments to be effective.
The researchers attempted to overcome these setbacks by mixing ethyl cellulose with the ethanol. When this solution comes into contact with the watery environment of a tumor, the substance is turned into a gel, which stays closer to the tumor itself and is less inclined to leak onto healthy tissue.
The Duke University researchers tested their ethanol gel on hamsters. They induced oral tumors into the mouths of the hamsters. The researchers then treated the tumors with injections of pure ethanol and the ethanol gel. The results found the ethanol gel was far more effective and by the eighth day after treatment, had a 100% cure rate.
The conclusion of the study is that a single injection of a special ethanol gel could have the potential to cure certain types of cancer in an extremely cost-effective way. The scientists believe that the treatment may be suitable for certain types of breast cancer, as well as cervical precancerous lesions.
A Low Cost Cancer Treatment
Such inexpensive cancer treatment, as the ACSH notes, would be applicable in both the developing and the developed world. As the study’s authors state:
“Development of enhanced ethanol ablation as an alternative to surgery in treatment of superficial solid tumors.”
With the population living longer and the number of people contracting cancer on the rise, and advancing cancer treatments becoming more and more expensive, the quest for less expensive and more accessible treatments to the deadly disease has never been more pressing.
In 2016, (4) Top Secret Writers reported how scientists in China have developed a cancer treatment ‘breakthrough’. The researchers developed organic nanoparticles that are not in any way toxic to patients like synthetic chemotherapy drugs are. The scientists found that by developing magnetic nanoparticles from bacteria they could kill cancerous cells.
Even less technical is the prospect of curing cancer through age-old homeopathic remedies. Purslane and parsley (5) are hailed as two herbs that possess properties that could be used to fight cancer.
Though for now, the Duke University researchers’ ethanol gel injections that target and kill certain tumours without damaging healthy nearby tissue, has to be one of the promising less expensive and more accessible forms of cancer treatment to have been developed.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Huffington Post – World Cancer Day
(2) Aging Care – why Cancer Patients Can’t Afford Treatment
(3) ACSH – Ethanol Lethal Injection
(4) Top Secret Writers – Nanoparticles Cure Cancer
(5) Top Secret Writers – Might Purslane and Parsley Cure Cancer