Doctors believe in cancer treatment revolution in less than 30 years

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Photo: Disclosure / Fiocruz

A study conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) pointed out that the majority of Brazilian oncologists believe that a technological revolution in cancer treatments will occur in the next 30 years. For 36.29% of professionals, this is a “highly probable” prognosis. Another 28.66% considered it only “probable”. Adding these two groups, 64.95% of doctors bet on this transformation in treatments.

14.18% of oncologists, on the other hand, also say they believe in a revolution, but estimate that it will not occur before three decades. On the other hand, 18.69% considered this prognosis moderately probable or improbable, either before or after the next 30 years. In addition, 2.18% said they were unaware of this possibility.

The study involved the application of a questionnaire with 21 questions. He was referred last year to doctors associated with 10 cancer societies in the country. In all, 821 responses were obtained.

The researchers’ objective was to investigate some perceptions of oncologists who work both in the Unified Health System (SUS) and in the private sector. They sought to understand how these professionals assess the possibilities of incorporating new technologies in the treatment of cancer and the population’s access to the resources currently available. The research was coordinated by the former director of the National Cancer Institute (Inca), Luiz Antonio Santini, and by the former health minister, José Gomes Temporão.

The results of the study also showed that Brazilian oncologists have been doing good monitoring of technological innovations: 58% reported regularly following the news and another 34% do so in a moderate way. Doctors were also asked about their expectations regarding the incorporation of new technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Regarding the private sector, 57.77% say they are optimistic or very optimistic, although the low coverage of health plans has been identified as a barrier for 41.9%.

In relation to SUS, there is less confidence in the incorporation of new technologies. The percentage of optimists or very optimists drops to 40.74%. Among the main difficulties pointed out are the low capacity for early diagnosis in primary care (53.63%), the insufficient supply of diagnostic services (50.29%) and the scarcity of financial resources (42.24%).

Unlikely monotherapy

Another fact that appears in the study is the disbelief of oncologists about monotherapy, that is, the development of a therapy capable of treating cancer definitively. For most physicians, the way to cope with the disease will continue to be polytherapy, which involves the adoption of multiple treatment strategies.

Monotherapy was considered unlikely by 39.12% of doctors and moderately probable by 17.37%. Only 7.83% believe in the development, within 30 years, of a therapy that is capable of treating the disease permanently. Another 30.99% believe in this possibility, but not before three decades.

Doctors gave their opinion on nine technologies that have been considered promising for the treatment of cancer in the future: genomic editing, liquid biopsy, cell therapy, therapeutic vaccines, oncological viruses, molecular imaging, antibody therapies, RNA therapies and tumor delivery.

Antibody therapies were considered to be the most promising. For 76.85% of doctors, they can positively impact diagnosis and treatment. This opinion was justified mainly by the ability to obtain a better quality of life for the patient and less side effects. On the other hand, 36.36% of oncologists consider that there are scientific barriers that hinder the development of this technology.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease caused the death of about 9.6 million victims in 2018, of which approximately 70% lived in low- and middle-income countries. Inca surveys reveal that, in Brazil, cancer is the main cause of death in more than 500 municipalities.

The expectation of Brazilian oncologists around a revolution in cancer treatments is similar to what is observed worldwide. Fiocruz itself, in a similar study conducted in 2017 with doctors from other countries, found that 60% bet on a revolutionary transformation of therapies in less than 30 years.

SOURCE: Agência Brasil



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