Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s awful for the hundreds of thousands of patients and their families impacted by it. 

But, there is hope. 

A new 2020 American Cancer Society report shows the largest single-year drop, 2.2%, in the rate of people dying from cancer ever recorded in 2017, the most recent year tracked.  

Even more promising, the report indicates that the rate of people dying from cancer has dropped every year for 26 straight years. 

How did we get here? More effective early detection, treatment advances, and lifestyle changes, for starters. But there is a lot more innovation that’s happening in modern cancer care that’s improving the odds for cancer patients everywhere. These new technologies include: 

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Artificial Intelligence for Cancer Care

The modern healthcare system is today based on electronic health data. Now, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology, we are finally able to more efficiently analyze and categorize that data, allowing researchers to identify disease and treatment trends that are leading to a better understanding of the elements that affect cancer growth or decline. Moreover, researchers and clinicians alike are now able to more quickly access and compare information about patients with similar cancers.  

The startup company, Paige (Pathology AI Guidance Engine), for example, applies AI-based methods to better map the pathology of cancer. Paige raised $45 million in funding in late 2019. 

The Cancer Genomics Cloud (CGC), which houses a number of cancer data sets, including the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), makes a huge amount of data available to researchers quickly and securely.

These technological efforts are leading both to increasingly personalized cancer care and new treatment options in the fight for a cure. 

Genomics Testing for Better Cancer Treatment

Liquid biopsies investigate “any type of specimen other than tissue — including blood, urine, and cerebral spinal fluid — that can be interrogated regarding the functionality of a cancer tumor.” An important tool in early detection, liquid biopsies can detect cancer before it becomes visible or shows symptoms. And, in the case of blood or urine specimens, the biopsies are non-invasive.

Guardant Health, a provider of liquid biopsies, saw its stock grow 78% in 2019. And that’s just the beginning. The market for liquid biopsies is projected to reach $6.5 billion by 2026, but could grow to as much as a $100 billion market by some estimates. 

Immunotherapy and Cancer

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the immune system to help patients fight a wide range of diseases, including cancer. In the spring of 2018, there were 753 cell-based therapies in development according to the Cancer Research Institute. 

And, some are working magic for patients. Keytruda, approved to treat a range of cancers, brought in approximately $11.1 billion in sales for the drug giant, Merck

Improving Patient Access 

Beyond housing mass data for researchers and clinicians, the internet is giving cancer patients themselves a place to connect with vetted expert information and with other patients. 

SurvivorNet is a community of cancer patients and survivors, as well as a forum for expert information. Its goal is to increase access to information about treatment options. SurvivorNet recently raised $10M in a Series B funding round. 

Why Invest in Cancer Treatment?

When it comes to cancer, traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are still commonly used and are generally effective. But, they are also aggressive and indiscriminate, and often come with debilitating side effects (although medical cannabis has been shown to help ease these symptoms). 

As medicine becomes more personal, so too are cancer treatments, with doctors and researchers moving towards increasingly patient-centric therapies.

Why now? Electronic health records, genetic testing, big data analytics, and supercomputing are the tools of precision care, and now, doctors and scientists have them. The results are both better targeted therapies available to patients sooner after diagnosis and cancer treatment options that are both in development and widely available multiplying fast. 

This leaves investors with lots of options. Not only are there new therapies and drugs on the market, there are new testing technologies, AI companies, and online platforms that have the potential to be the next big thing. 

How to Invest in the Future of Cancer Care

Cancer is something that we all want to beat. And, these days, our chances of actually accomplishing that goal are better than ever.

As new technologies become commercialized, millions will be diagnosed earlier and successfully connected with their cures. It won’t happen overnight, though. It will happen one breakthrough at a time.

Picking those winners ahead of time is difficult, however, and typically calls for advanced medical research knowledge and understanding that most investors simply don’t have. But, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from cancer care innovation as a whole via mutual funds and ETFs.

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