Team:Westminster/Problem

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Revision as of 23:01, 26 September 2012

The Problem

Cancer

Cancer remains one of the biggest killers in the world. There are currently about 12.7 million sufferers of cancer around the world, and the number is expected to have doubled by 2030. Around one in four deaths in the UK is caused by cancer, and it is estimated that one in three people will develop a form of cancer in their lifetime. (Cancer Research UK)

Occurence rates

Cancer Recurrence

Even though cancer treatment and management techniques have improved over the years, cancer recurrence continues to be a problem and source of concern amongst sufferers, their families and medical professionals. The American Cancer Society approximates that about 20% of all breast cancer survivors will develop a recurrent breast cancer. Several reasons have been given for recurrence, one of which is that not all cancer cells are killed during cancer treatment, so these cancer cells are then able to regenerate new tumors.

Unavailability of Early Diagnostic Tests

Even with extensive research into cancer and its surrounding phenomena, there is still an unavailability of diagnostic tests that catch some cancers before they start to exhibit serious symptoms. Cancers like bowel and pancreatic cancers can usually not be detected until a patient develops a very big tumor or experiences some bleeding in their stool. It would be ideal to have blood or even non-invasive urine tests that can detect biomarkers for these cancers at the early stages and prevent them from metastasizing.

Tracking Metastasis

Even when cancers have been detected in the late stages, medical experts experience problems with detecting areas to which the cancer has spread.

Current Tools for Cancer Research

Recent studies have shown that many tumors contain a sub-population of cells called cancer stem cells. The main tool used is Aldefluor assay. However, this assay can mis-identify some cancer stem cells because it only detects a narrow range of ALDH isoforms.