The outcome for some cancer patients can now be predicted much earlier by making the right choice of treatment based on a mathematical model rather than the current life-table method, which has been in use for over 20 years, according to research published today in the Institute of Physics Journal Physics in Medicine & Biology.
The paper`s author, Dr Richard Mould, explains that clinical trials usually try to establish which cancer treatment is more effective, A or B. Dr Mould has now designed a "model" – a set of mathematical formulae – that gives a prediction of twenty-year cancer survival rates some fourteen years earlier than is currently possible. By entering accumulated data on various cancer treatments into the model and the survival rates for patients on each treatment, predictions can now be made about which treatment would be best for a particular group of patients.
The idea of a "cure from cancer" is that the disease would be completely eliminated so that it never recurs and the patient`s lifespan is the same as that of someone who has never suffered cancer. However, it has generally been assumed from work at the Christie Hospital, Manchester in 1968 that for several cancers, including cancer of the larynx, that cancer survivors nevertheless eventually die at a faster rate than the rest of the population.
"The layman`s concept of cancer cure has never been proven numerically from real cancer patient data," says Mould, "until now." His work on cancer of the larynx in 1000 cases treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, 1944-1968 with follow-up to 1988 reveals that the Christie Hospital assumption is not always correct and that cancer can be totally cured – under certain circumstances.
Mould has devised two new models known as the Tobacco Cancer Risk (TCR) and Absolute Cancer Cure (ACC) models. He has determined that cancer survival rates over twenty years can now be predicted much more accurately. Moreover, the 20-year prediction only requires patient follow-up of 1-6 years rather than the usual 14-year follow-up needed for the earlier statistical models. Mould has also validated his cancer prediction models using about 6000 cases from the National Cancer Institute, USA, for cancers of the bladder, tongue, prostate, cervix, breast and thyroid, treated in the years 1973-1977 with follow-up to 1999.
Institute of Physics. October 2002.