Will there be a cure for cancer in our lifetime? Opinions surrounding this question vary, but many people are inclined to think there will be. The unfortunate reality is all types of cancer are fatal if left untreated. According to the World Health Organization, there were 9 million cancer-related deaths that occurred as a result of cancer worldwide in 2016, up from 8.8 million the year prior. Nearly 610,000 cancer-related deaths are expected in the United States this year alone. Fortunately, science is constantly advancing and technology, including signal processing, may get us closer to a cure.
Cancer has a complex history dating back thousands of years, ranging from masses discovered on the bodies of mummies to ancient texts suggesting cancer was present in the lives of ancient Egyptians as early as 3000 B.C. According to the discovered textbook, Egyptians believed there was no treatment for the disease, which we now know to be untrue.
Considering cancer’s prolonged history, treatments for the disease, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, are fairly recent developments, and far from perfect. Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used to treat common cancers like lung cancer and melanoma, to rarer cancers like mesothelioma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Unfortunately, the treatments often come with a long list of side effects that diminish a patient's quality of life, prompting many people to opt out. Cancer researchers are tirelessly working to find new treatment options and, ultimately, a cure through the use and development of new technologies, including artificial intelligence and signal processing.
The existence of signal processing in our daily lives is evident, but the roles it plays are very diverse and could become crucial in cancer research. According to a report published in the Chinese Journal of Cancer, signal processing technology could significantly improve the research process for scientists studying cancer. The 2011 report dives deep into the background of signal processing and the vast improvements that could be made in cancer research as a result, including the capacity to break down large amounts of biological data effectively and easily.
According to authors Olli Yli-Harja, Antti Ylip, Matti Nykter and Wei Zhang, “[the] application of signal processing . . . supports better targeting of research resources and a much more comprehensive knowledge building process in all life sciences, [including] cancer research.”
The general public has expressed concerns about rapidly advancing technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. For the most part, opinions have been shaped as a result of science fiction movies, wherein the world is all but taken over by all-knowing robots. The possibility of this occurrence is severely unlikely, but what society can expect is continued growth in the field as time progresses.
Cancer may be a distant memory one day. There is no way to know for certain when or how cancer will be cured, but there is a very real possibility the advances made possible with technology, such as artificial intelligence and signal processing, could get us there. From the amount of information available at our fingertips using the internet to the vast amount of data that can be sorted with signal processing, nothing is impossible in the world we live in today.
About the Author:
Anna Suarez has been working as a communications professional for over 10 years. She combines her passions for health and technology to research and write about trends in both fields.