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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Chat on the current state of cancer treatment and research

Grossman for blog [View Image]
Steven R. Grossman, M.D., Ph.D.

This past Tuesday ABC News hosted a Twitter chat with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) on the current state of cancer following the release of the Cancer Progress Report 2014. Steven R. Grossman, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of Massey Cancer Center, provided expert commentary as Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health/Medical Editor, posed a series of questions and discussion topics. 

Below is a recap of the chat. Some of the responses have been slightly altered to provide context that could not fit into the original 140-character tweets. Be sure to follow @VCUMassey on Twitter to keep up with Massey’s latest groundbreaking research and clinical trials, learn about patient and caregiver resources, as well as the volunteer and philanthropic opportunities available while connecting with others who share similar interests and life experiences.


What are the cancer stats? How many with cancer and who are they? What is the cost?

The American Association for Cancer Research estimates that more than 1.6 million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer this year. The costs associated with cancer in 2009 were $216.6 billion.

Major progress has been made in many common tumor types, but the statistics on pancreatic cancer remain dismal with only 5percent surviving. As our treatments improve, we have to greatly increase the emphasis on supporting our cancer survivors.


Where are we making progress in cancer research and treatment?

There has been major progress recently in cancer immunotherapy and in understanding the role of cancer stem cells in treatment resistance. Research by Massey’s own Dr. Steven Grant indicates that at least three separate pathways in cancer cells have to be targeted for meaningful therapeutic efficacy.


Which other areas are we not seeing big improvements or innovation? Why not?

Pancreatic cancer remains a difficult problem due to intrinsic resistance of those cancer cells relative to other tumor types. Glioblastoma remains a devastating and difficult-to-treat brain tumor that invariably recurs after therapy. Progress in treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in the laboratory using rational combinations of targeted agents will hopefully translate to the clinic soon. Promising strategies for pancreatic cancer include combining targeted agents and immunotherapy.


What cancer advances have been particularly beneficial in patient screening and diagnosis?

The benefits of universal genetic tumor testing are slowly being realized as more and more targeted agents are approved. Pancreatic and ovarian are the two cancers in most need of early detection modalities.

Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: September 23, 2014

Category: Research

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