Cancer treatment innovations

Friday, November 29, 2019


After decades of frustration in the fight against cancer, signs of progress are emerging, write commentators in the Global Innovation Index 2019.


This article is part of a series about the power of innovation to solve social and economic challenges. Stories and statistics are drawn from the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Innovation Index 2019.


Saving and extending lives with better cancer care brings obvious human benefits, but economists have also estimated that improvements in cancer survival generated social benefits valued at around US$1.9 trillion in the U.S. alone, between 1988 and 2000. With so much progress yet to be made in the field of cancer treatment, the potential for further social, economic and human gain is enormous.


Over the coming decade, we will witness the development and application of today’s emerging innovations, many from the worlds of IT and medical technology. Here’s a look at four of the most promising.


AI cancer screening


Diagnostic precision in screening is an important part of early detection and successful treatment. In China, artificial intelligence is being widely used to improve accuracy in reading medical images, writes technology giant Tencent’s Founder and CEO Ma Huateng, in the Global Innovation Index 2019. He quotes that AI-operated medical imaging system screens for lung, esophageal and colorectal cancer are gaining high accuracy levels of 90-97%.


Virtual platforms


The contribution of digital technology to the rapid, precise and appropriate diagnosis and treatment of cancer extends includes new virtual platforms. GE Healthcare’s President and CEO Kieran Murphy writes in the Global Innovation Index 2019 about a joint project with Roche Diagnostics that will improve treatment by collecting a patient’s data – usually dispersed across ‘siloed’ medical departments – on one cloud-based platform. This will enable clinicians gathering at tumor board meetings to make faster, better decisions about a patient’s treatment.




The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Director, Francis Collins, identifies immunotherapy as “poised for significant progress over the next decade”. In the Global Innovation Index 2019, he describes a “radical new approach” in which the patient’s own immune system is enlisted in the fight against cancer. So far, the method has successfully treated a variety of blood cancers, and researchers are now turning their attention to more difficult targets such as breast, prostate and colon cancers, including those that have metastasized.


Medtech: shooting particles, saving lives


Physics pioneered at the European Organization for Nuclear Research - otherwise known as CERN - is changing how we treat cancer. In the Global Innovation Index 2019, CERN’s Giovanni Anelli, Manuela Cirilli and Anais Rassat explain how a compact, low-cost accelerator developed at CERN has been licensed to ADAM. Specialising in medical technology for cancer treatment, ADAM is building a next-generation hadron therapy machine that uses protons and other ions to treat cancer without damaging surrounding tissue.


The Global Innovation Index 2019 is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as co-publishers, and their Knowledge Partners, Confederation of Indian Industry, Dassault Systèmes, SEBRAE, Brazilian Micro and Small Industry Support Services, and Brazilian Confederation of Industry.


Published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) licence. That means you can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format for any purpose, even commercially, but you cannot change it in any way.

You may also like

View all blog posts