Artificial Intelligence, Nuclear Medicine… Journey into the Future of Cancer Patient Care with CAL in Nice

Renewed for five years at the helm of the Antoine Lacassagne Cancer Center (CAL) (also read), Professor Emmanuel Barranger, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, looks back at some of the major developments that he believes will shape the world of cancer treatment in the next ten years.

1. Personalized Prevention

“The aim will be to personalize primary and secondary prevention, adapting it to each individual’s risk,” summarizes the specialist. Regarding primary prevention (aimed at preventing the onset of the disease), the specialist cites the example of Interception, a pioneering program led by the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris that aims to identify individuals at increased risk of cancer as early as possible in order to offer them personalized prevention and better care as part of a collaboration between the city and the hospital.

“The benefit of this type of program is that it applies to everyone, evaluating each person’s risk of developing cancer. If the risk is high, actions are taken to combat risk factors such as diet, lifestyle… It’s personalized, offered by specialized institutions, with the goal of improving the overall health of the population.”

Regarding secondary prevention (aimed at reducing the prevalence of a disease by detecting it at early stages), Professor Barranger calls for a strengthening of actions to detect early lesions “to improve survival.” “Our role, as a cancer center, is to ensure that the general population has access to screening.” Reference is made to the consistently low participation rates in our region. “In the field of screening, it is important to identify people who miss out due to social and/or geographical reasons.”

2. Personalized Diagnostics and Therapeutics

“In the future, diagnostics and therapeutics will be increasingly personalized, based on the characterization of the tumor and the host,” says Professor Barranger, citing the example of endometrial cancer, a tumor that already benefits from this progress.

“For a long time, treatment depended on the size of the cancer, the stage of development, and its location, what is called the TNM stratification (clinical classification based on T: tumor size; N: lymph node involvement; M: presence or absence of metastases, Ed.). Today, the tumor is characterized genetically – we look for the presence of mutations – and through imaging. We then propose targeted therapies based on the identified mutations.”

3. Growing Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

If AI raises many concerns – particularly ethical ones – it remains a major force for progress in medicine, especially in the field of diagnostics. “In the years to come, we should see a further increase in the involvement of AI in aiding diagnosis, characterizing tumors, predicting treatment responses, contouring lesions… The expected benefits are significant: a more precise definition of tumors, more targeted treatments, and reduced toxicity,” states Professor Barranger.

4. Combination of Treatments

Combining different therapies to better combat cancer is a trend that is only growing, as confirmed by the director of the CAL. “We are increasing the use of new therapeutic combinations, such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy or targeted therapy… The therapeutic sequences are also becoming more diverse, with a greater use of concomitant treatments.”

Among the many examples of this evolution is the treatment of breast cancer. “Surgery is no longer performed as a first resort. Sometimes, we start with immunotherapy, for example. In reality, therapeutic sequences are becoming increasingly personalized, always with the same goal: to improve survival by preserving the ‘diseased’ organ and its function, and by limiting any side effects,” he explains.

5. Development of Nuclear Medicine

This medical discipline, which uses radiotracers, is an instrument of hope in the fight against cancer and is currently experiencing significant growth. It has already revolutionized the management of metastatic prostate cancer in a therapeutic dead-end situation.

The CAL is the first institution in the PACA region to offer this treatment (named “Lutetium 177-PSMA-617”), which consists of a vector molecule that targets cancer cells and a radioactive element emitting radiation intended to destroy all of these cells while having a limited effect on surrounding healthy cells. “For the past year and a half, we have delivered approximately 300 doses of this targeted internal radiotherapy, with a gradual increase. The treatment is very well tolerated, targeting the core of the diseased cells,” adds Professor Barranger.

6. Strengthening Early Supportive Care

“The goal will be to identify people with a poor prognosis cancer early, in other words, those that cannot be cured or even stabilized in the short term, and to provide them with the best possible support. Unfortunately, these situations are not always well managed today,” he observes.

7. Increased Involvement of Patients and Caregivers

Aiming for ever greater patient democracy is a consensus. “It is absolutely necessary to strengthen the role of patients and caregivers in healthcare, so that they become true partners,” concludes Professor Barranger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *