Cánceres que regresan

LONDON, ONTARIO – Se están haciendo progresos contra muchos tipos de cáncer y hay más pacientes que sobreviven más tiempo, gracias a la investigación en dos frentes: mejores métodos para una detección temprana y el desarrollo de terapias que son más efectivas y menos tóxicas. De hecho, se calcula que hoy hay más de 10 millones de sobrevivientes de cáncer sólo en Estados Unidos, y esta cifra ha venido creciendo de manera estable. En otros países desarrollados se detectan cifras similares, en proporción al tamaño de la población.

Los cánceres que se detectan temprano –cuando son pequeños y tienen menos probabilidades de haber hecho metástasis (de haberse propagado desde el tumor principal)- tienen más probabilidades de ser tratados con terapia local, mientras que un tratamiento exitoso es en definitiva improbable una vez que se desarrollan tumores metastásicos. Y las mejores terapias se traducen en que se puede tratar a los pacientes con drogas que tienen mejores resultados (y en que los pacientes tienen más probabilidades de recibir toda la dosis necesaria).

Sin embargo, nuestro enorme progreso a la hora de detectar y tratar el cáncer también derivó en una creciente conciencia del problema de la dormancia del tumor: un paciente parece estar curado, pero el mismo tipo de cáncer regresa años o incluso décadas después. En el cáncer de mama o melanoma, por ejemplo, se reportaron reincidencias 25 años después del tratamiento inicial.

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