Cancer will soon become a disease that will not necessarily affect quality of life or life expectancy like chronic cardiac diseases do, said a Turkish health expert.
Cigdem Selli, an associate professor from Ege University’s faculty of pharmacy, said once the reason why the effects of medicine vary from person to person is better understood, the ‘big C’ can be kept under control for many years after finding the best medicine for each patient.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Selli said the life expectancy of cancer patients has been clearly extended thanks to scientific research.
Selli, who has been conducting research on breast and prostate cancers at the University of Edinburgh since 2015, said there is now a better understanding of how cancer cells behave.
“Thanks to new technologies, we now understand better how the cancerous cells multiply, how they spread to other parts of the body and how medicines affect those cells,” she said.
She explained that some presently used cancer medicines are effective for years on certain patients and stop any recurrences but they lose effect in some patients and the disease returns.
Selli said she is currently researching how this difference occurs through genetic analyses of tissue samples from patients with breast cancer.
“Once it is understood why medicinal effects vary among patients, we will be able to keep the disease under control for many years by deciding the most suitable medicine for each patient,” she said.
Regarding cancer research and treatment in Turkey, Selli said the number of researchers in the country who work devotedly and contribute to the fight against cancer is rising.
She said access to cancer treatment or other health services in Turkey is at a competitive level with other European countries.
Noting that authentic and big innovations which give direction to cancer research and treatment are achieved in developed countries experiencing ‘brain drains’ such as the United Kingdom, Selli said a bigger research budget would help scientists in Turkey.
“In order to compete with those countries in cancer research, our country’s education system can be updated in a way to support authentic and creative work and the budget for scientists can be increased,” she said.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018, according to the World Health Organization, and roughly one in six deaths worldwide is due to cancer.