Antibiotic-resistant super bacteria can make chemotherapy ineffective within the next decade, oncologists warn
- British doctors have seen an increase in superbug infections in cancer patients
- It is predicted that 65,000 patients will receive a drug-resistant infection within ten years
- Half of the oncologists surveyed think that chemotherapy can be wiped out
Antibiotic-resistant superbugs can make chemotherapy ineffective within the next decade, experts have warned.
British oncologists have seen an increase in super-bacterial infections among cancer patients in the last year alone, some of which are fatal.
A predicted 65,000 cancer patients could potentially develop life-threatening drug-resistant infections after surgery in the next decade.
Superbugs make routine medical interventions, such as chemotherapy and other operations, less safe to use – therefore ‘ineffective’ – due to the risk of infection.
Half of the oncologists surveyed are afraid that strong chemotherapy-killing drugs will not be viable within ten years.
Cancer patients are at risk of receiving antibiotic-resistant superbugs that may make chemotherapy ineffective in the future, oncologists have warned (stock, chemotherapy)
Bacteria can become resistant – known as a superug – when people take the wrong doses of antibiotics, or they are dispensed unnecessarily.
Cancer patients can be more vulnerable to emerging super bacteria because their immune system is weaker.
One in four UK oncologists has seen an increase in drug-resistant infections in the last year, The times reported.
A study among 100 cancer doctors found that 95 percent were concerned about the emergence of super bacteria in their patients.
About 46 percent of respondents said they believed that drug-resistant infections could make chemotherapy impossible.
The research was conducted by the Longitude Prize, which was set up to solve the problem.
WHAT IS A SUPERBUG?
Infections become drug resistant when the microbes that cause them to adapt and change over time, thereby developing the ability to resist the drugs designed to kill them.
One of the most common types of drug resistance is antibiotic resistance.
In this process, bacteria – not humans or animals – become resistant to antibiotics. These bacteria are sometimes referred to as “superugs.”
The result is that many drugs, such as antibiotics, become less effective in treating diseases.
Our excessive use of antibiotics in humans, animals and plants speeds up this process.
Without antibiotics that work, routine operations such as hip replacements, common illnesses such as diarrhea, and minor accidental injuries, even cuts, can become life-threatening.
Routine medical interventions, such as chemotherapy, organ transplants and other operations, become less safe due to the risk of infection.
Source: Wellcome Trust
It appears that the average cancer doctor had 23 percent of their patients develop an infection during treatment.
More than a third required surgery for their cancer, with five percent of those patients developing a resistant infection.
Infections become resistant to drugs when the microbes that cause them to adapt and change over time become stronger and able to resist the drugs designed to kill them.
Specialists estimate that about 70 percent of the bacteria that can cause infections are already resistant to at least one antibiotic that is often used to treat them.
Bugs can partially adapt because antibiotics have been dispensed unnecessarily for decades, so bugs learn how antibiotics work.
Cancer patients are a good example – they are flooded with drugs as a precaution while doctors wait for slow diagnostic results.
Because resistant infections are becoming more common, modern drugs are at risk of failing, such as antibiotics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned earlier if nothing is done, the world is moving towards a “post-antibiotic” era.
Other drugs, such as those for chemotherapy, or interventions such as organ transplants can become too risky.
Because chemotherapy is the first line of treatment for many cancers, it is a major concern that it could one day become ineffective in the treatment of the deadly disease.
Antimicrobial resistance kills around 700,000 a year. But experts say that the death toll could reach ten million a year worldwide in the next 30 years.