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Tapping on Technology for Cancer Treatment

Cancer is a medical condition where uncontrollable cell growth, both in terms of size and number, leads to malignant tumours. When detected early, cancer is mostly treatable.

Dr Lim Hwee Yong, a senior consultant and medical oncologist at the Novena Cancer Centre said: “Treatment options include utilising molecular, genetic and immunological cell-identifying methods.”

Dr Lim Hwee Yong and Dr Shang Yeap with their clinic staff

Accurately identifying cancer cells

These provide a deep understanding of cellular structures, functions, interactions and responses on a molecular level to facilitate effective treatment solutions.

To do so, the ability to pinpoint the identity of cells is important. Dr Lim said: “Cancerous cells growing on the same organ may not all be of the same type. To offer more precise and personalised treatment, it is crucial to accurately identify the different cancerous cell types by recognising their molecular markings and characteristics.”

Turning knowledge into treatment methods

For targeted and responsive treatments, chemical agents are engineered to recognise cancerous cells. 

1. In immunotherapy, drugs are developed to bind to tumour cells. The binding flags tumour cells to be recognised and eliminated by the immune cells. Alternatively, the binding develops molecules that activate the immune system to get rid of these tumour cells.

2. Localised nano-sized radioactive particles are released into the artery 
feeding the tumour in an effort to eliminate it. This precise, minute and localised form of radiotherapy has lower radioactive dosages. 

3. For effective cancer prevention, cancer vaccines release engineered inactive molecular factors that identify cancer or its causation factors into the body, training the immune system to recognise and destroy them. In future, should any similar cancer cells appear, the body would be more well equipped to destroy such cells.

Supportive treatment is paramount

With possible side effects linked to treatment, patients’ quality of life and immune system are often compromised. Supportive measures allow cancer treatments to be as non-disruptive as possible.

Dr Lim says that supportive medications will alleviate side effects, improve tolerance and effectiveness of treatments, and allow patients to maintain active, good quality daily life.


 

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