Immunotherapy drugs are considered the latest and greatest breakthrough in conventional cancer treatment. Chimeric antigen receptor technology (CAR-T) has raised a great deal of hope, and an equal measure of concern.
CAR-T involves genetically reengineering a patient's immune cells to target tumor-associated antigens, thereby destroying the malignant cells.
I will never forget the words from the oncologist when I was first diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
"We can put out the flames but it will always smoulder," the doctor said.
"You will learn to live with cancer. You will have to overcome the stigma of cancer."
A Gleason score provides information on how aggressive a prostate cancer is. It is calculated when a prostate needle biopsy specimen is examined under a microscope. Depending on how normal or abnormal the cancer looks, it is assigned a number from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most abnormal and most aggressive. Different areas of a tumor may have different patterns, and the two highest patterns are added together to give the Gleason score. Most prostate cancers are Gleason score 6 (composed entirely of pattern 3) and men with Gleason score 6 are considered at low risk of having their tumors progress.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to ease the approval process for direct-to-consumer genetic tests, saying that the diagnostics can increase consumer engagement in their health.
"In its consideration of [genetic health risk] tests, the FDA seeks to strike a balance that provides for an efficient pathway to bring these tests to consumers, without sacrificing the assurances offered by FDA oversight," said Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in a statement.