The Evolution of Cancer

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As far back as the first centuries, “the ancients recognized that there was no curative treatment once a cancer had spread, and that intervention might be more harmful than no treatment at all.1” Physicians continued to study cancer with a multitude of reasons why cancer occurred – from issues with lymph systems to chronic irritation to hormonal imbalances.
Even as late as 1971, when the ‘War on Cancer’ was initiated and ‘cancer’ was the second leading cause of death, patients were being diagnosed often with a singular term - cancer.  Some patients were able to have a more exact diagnosis, like breast cancer or leukemia, but it was still seen as one disease.

The approach to cancer and its treatment was “monolithic,” as the treatments were used against many tumor types – some that helped shrink tumors, while the same treatment could cause serious side effects.   It wasn’t until decades later that different tumor types started to be treated differently.

Over time, classifications and therapeutic approaches have changed. Today lung cancer is treated with targeted therapies like EGFR inhibitors, aimed at specific non-small cell cancers as determined by genomic testing for these mutations. With the addition of immunotherapies, treatments are targeting immune responses to block proteins like PD-1, helping to shrink or slow the growth of lung tumors.

Where classification has gone from a very small set of cancers, researchers and life science companies continue to stratify those classifications into specific types and stages of cancer (i.e., from “lung cancer” to “non-small cell lung cancer with documentation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)” as just one example of a type of lung cancer.) Researchers and clinicians are also more focused on the mechanism of action. 


Demanding Advancement in Our Projection Methodologies

To handle the complexity and evolution of the specialty market, projection methodologies for interventional treatments must also change. The approaches from the early 21st century were appropriate for the data available, but with comprehensive data and the understanding that treatments are becoming more targeted, the insights on those treatments should correspond.

Life science companies require a deeper and more insightful understanding of their market in order to make those strategic business decisions.