Younger patients with cancer

I have been working with people diagnosed with cancer over 2 decades now and I can safely say that the patient demographics have changed.

The patients I see in clinic or the ward have remained about the same, but they are getting younger. Even a few years ago, we would see a young woman in clinic and everyone would feel really sad for her. We now routinely see really young women in the clinic – there are a few patients now who are still in their 20s.

Something has changed. Something is making people get cancer earlier in life. Something is making people’s cell mutate and cause havoc with their lives.

Is it is the genetics? Is it the food we are eating? Is it our lifestyle? Is it the excessive radiation around us? Is our environment getting worse? Is the pollution driving the cancer?

I do not know the answer, but what I do know is that my patients are getting younger and younger. It is devastating to them, their families and their care-givers (including us as their medical care-givers).

We need to work harder to prevent cancer and if we do not succeed in preventing it, then treat it really well to cure them.

Common questions you might have about chemo but were too scared to ask

There is a nice article in the ABC site explaining in simple terms the effects of chemotherapy on the patient.

Cytotoxic chemotherapy has been the mainstay of systemic anti-cancer treatment for a few decades now. Things are slowly changing in a few cancer types. The future will be radically different, as we start to understand as to who exactly needs to treatment and with what.

Common questions you might have about chemo but were too scared to ask

Are all cancer gene mutations harmful?

We test for various genes in the setting of cancer or to assess the cancer risk for siblings or future generations.

The problem is that not all genes are the same. Also the mutation might be somatic (one off defect) or germline (familial). Harder to know the difference without checking for specific parameters.

The ABC has a nice article about this topic.

Gene Mutations