Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery—they’re the most common treatment options for cancer. “We’re trying to move to the next level where we get more specific with the treatments, and we can target in on the gene mutation that’s causing cancer,” said Dr. Lowell Hart, an oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health.
Depending on the type of cancer, patients may qualify for a clinical trial. “We try to offer clinical trials whenever they are available because obviously none of the progress that we’ve made in cancer in the last 20-30 years would be possible without patients going on to trials,” said Dr. Hart.
A clinical trial gives patients access to new drugs that aren’t FDA approved. While some cancers already have curative treatments—others may benefit from trying a drug that isn’t yet on the regular market. “We’re trying to get away from chemotherapy. I think we’re kind of at our maximum benefit now for the chemotherapy drugs that have come along in the last 20 years, and so now we are looking at immune drugs for as many patients as possible because the side effects are less and sometimes the benefits can be more,” he said.
Currently, there are many ongoing clinical trials for breast, lung, and colorectal cancers. With early detection, prevention, and more effective treatments, doctors say the cancer survival rate is improving. “We are not quite to the point we want to be at yet, but I’m hopeful that sometime in the next 10 years or so we may get to the point where we can turn cancer into of a chronic illness that even if you can’t be completely cured, you can just keep living with it,” said Dr. Hart.
With a goal to prolong life, clinical trials can help doctors give patients the best treatment possible to help them overcome cancer.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.