Cancers récidivistes

LONDON, ONTARIO – Des progrès sont réalisés contre tous types de cancers, avec un nombre croissant de patients qui survivent plus longtemps, grâce à des recherches menées sur deux fronts : l’amélioration des méthodes de détection précoce et le développement de traitements plus efficaces et moins toxiques. On estime en effet aujourd’hui à 10 millions le nombre de personnes qui ont survécu à leur cancer rien qu’aux Etats-Unis, et ce chiffre est en constante augmentation. Des chiffres semblablement identiques, proportionnellement à la taille de la population, s’appliquent aussi dans d’autres pays développés.

Les cancers diagnostiqués précocement – lorsqu’ils sont petits et probablement pas encore métastasés (répandus loin de la tumeur primaire) – sont plus susceptibles d’être soignés par un traitement localisé, alors que la réussite du traitement est à terme moins certaine lorsque les métastases se sont développées. Et de meilleurs traitements impliquent que les patients peuvent être soignés avec des médicaments qui seront plus efficaces (et que les patients sont plus susceptibles de recevoir la dose totale nécessaire).

Mais ces progrès énormes réalisés pour détecter et traiter le cancer ont fait progressivement prendre conscience des problèmes liés à la dormance tumorale : un patient semble être guéri mais le cancer revient des années, ou même des décennies plus tard. Il y a eu des cas de cancer du sein ou de mélanome, par exemple, qui ont connu une récidive 25 ans après le traitement initial.

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