The Birth of Chemotherapy

Dr. Ryan joins us again today to discuss the origins of chemotherapy treatment. We discuss how earlier chemotherapy treatments were initially derived from poison and how chemotherapy research and development have improved over the years. We discuss the challenges researchers and medical oncologists faced during the early days of using chemo to treat cancer and how the mustard gas leak in Bari, Italy, impacted medical science’s research into cancer. We discuss how early cancer research paved the way for today’s combination therapy treatments, research, and treatment protocols and why many people are still concerned – and even fearful — of receiving chemotherapy treatment. We also discuss how medications like cisplatin and lorazepam led to improvements in making treating cancer more tolerable while improving cancer cure rates.

After obtaining a degree in Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University, Dr. Matthew Ryan decided to follow his true calling to become an oncology doctor. He earned his medical degree at the University of Iowa and completed his residency and his oncology and hematology fellowships at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he developed the clinical practice guidelines for the Mayo Clinic’s oncology tumor group. As a Board Certified Medical Oncologist and Hematologist at Green Bay Oncology, Dr. Ryan treats all types of cancers and adult blood disorders. He enjoys reading and spending time with his family when he’s not treating patients.

“They have lots of poisons on the shelf that can kill cancer. The key is killing the cancer and letting the human live.” – Dr. Matthew Ryan

This week on Cancer Covered:

  • How early chemotherapy treatments initially derived from poisons
  • Why it was so difficult to kill cancer cells without also killing healthy tissue
  • The Bari Incident and how the mustard gas leak impacted medical research for treating cancer
  • Today’s use of nitrogen mustard in treating certain types of cancers
  • The development of combination therapy treatments
  • Why researchers began developing R&D protocols for researching and treating cancer
  • How early chemotherapy treatment still impacts people’s decision to receive chemo
  • How cisplatin led to improved cancer cure rates

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