Medical advances give hope to late-stage cancer patients

CINCINNATI -- By the time 34-year-old Paul Glasser was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, the tumor in his lung was nearly the size of his heart and a smaller counterpart had begun to bloom in his brain.

Despite never having smoked in his life, he had developed stage 4 lung cancer.

Hearing this, Glasser braced himself to hear that his remaining time on Earth could be measured in months -- maybe even weeks.

"They kept saying stage four," he said. "There are no stages past stage four. … I didn't think there would be any good news coming out of that first meeting."

There was.

According to Dr. John Morris of the University of Cincinnati Cancer institute, the prognosis for cancer patients such as Glasser has grown exponentially more positive since the turn of the century. Technological advancements mean that more precise, effective treatments are available for a wide variety of cancers.

Morris, Glasser's oncologist, targeted the lung tumor with medication and the brain tumor with precision radiation. By April 2017, the latter was completely gone and the former's mass had been significantly reduced.

"In three months, it shrank by 50 percent," Glasser said.

Twenty years ago, Morris said, when only 3 million Americans were cancer survivors, Glasser's outlook could have been grim. By 2016, advances in medical technology treatment boosted the number of cancer survivors in the country to 20 million.

Glasser is happy to be one of them.

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