"Captain, you're asking me to work with equipment which is hardly very far ahead of stone knives and bearskins." - Spock, to Captain Kirk (from "The City on the Edge of Forever" episode)
As far as treating cancer, it seems like methods haven't changed that much since my grandmother died of colon cancer some fifty years ago: heavy doses of radiation followed by debilitating chemotherapy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Interesting and encouraging new treatments appear on the horizon and then fade into failure and disappointment. There has been good progress in conquering some forms of cancer, but others remain tenaciously hard to beat.
My brother has been through the radiation and chemo wringer. After a year of the "gold standard" chemo, it has proved to be ineffective, so now we work our way through a list of alternatives. Meanwhile, we've kept our eyes and ears tuned to the latest research, clinical trials and FDA approvals. We have him taking a cocktail of supplements for which he needs a schedule to keep track. I encourage (unsuccessfully so far...) him to incorporate dietary changes, yoga and meditation into his treatment regimen. Any and all options are on the table.
This past week at The Santosh Kesari Laboratory at the University of California San Diego we got him started on something completely different. When my brother was diagnosed in October 2010 with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) the family dove into the internet looking for anything we could find on treating this deadly disease. One of the things that popped up was something called the NovoTTF - described as a helmet that used electric fields to disrupt the growth of cancer cells. Real out-there stuff, but intriguing. At that time, the device was still in clinical trials, so my brother opted for the traditional treatment regimen: radiation and chemotherapy.
Meanwhile, the "helmet" was approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of GBM - neuro-oncologists could being prescribing it once they were certified by the inventing company, Novocure (based in Israel). When we learned that the standard chemotherapy was not working for my brother, we immediately went back to the idea of the "helmet." Only a few clinics in the country are as yet certified to prescribe the device and San Diego was the closest one to my brother.