A movement is under way by researchers, doctors and entrepreneurs to find new ways to ease the dreaded side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients. It is a much-needed effort, considering the statistics. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses in the United States this year. In 2013, the most current year for which the society offers figures, the direct medical cost for cancer in the United States was $75 billion.
Common side effects for chemotherapy include hair loss, nausea and vomiting. Yet there are other side effects, such as nerve and bladder problems as well as extreme fatigue, that are much harder to tolerate. Worse yet, a recent global study, by Public Health England, an executive agency of the U.K.'s Department of Health, found that some patients receiving chemotherapy in 2014 died within 30 days of beginning treatment.
"Chemotherapy is a vital part of cancer treatment," said Dr. Jem Rashbass, cancer lead for Public Health England. "However, it is a powerful medication ... and often, getting the balance right on which patients to treat aggressively can be hard."
Thankfully, experimental technologies may give patients long-overdue relief. The following companies are working on new methods to make chemotherapy safer, and more tolerable, for patients.
Pictured here: Today, computer programs can create a "traffic map" of the proteins inside a cancer cell to pinpoint better treatment options.