Cancer therapy has been characterized throughout history by ups and downs, not only due to the ineffectiveness of treatments and side effects, but also by hope and the reality of complete remission and cure in many cases. Within the therapeutic arsenal, alongside surgery in the case of solid tumors, are the antitumor drugs and radiation that have been the treatment of choice in some instances. In recent years, immunotherapy has become an important therapeutic alternative, and is now the first choice in many cases. Nanotechnology has recently arrived on the scene, offering nanostructures as new therapeutic alternatives for controlled drug delivery, for combining imaging and treatment, applying hyperthermia, and providing directed target therapy, among others. These therapies can be applied either alone or in combination with other components (antibodies, peptides, folic acid, etc.). In addition, gene therapy is also offering promising new methods for treatment. Here, we present a review of the evolution of cancer treatments, starting with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and immunotherapy, and moving on to the most promising cutting-edge therapies (gene therapy and nanomedicine). We offer an historical point of view that covers the arrival of these therapies to clinical practice and the market, and the promises and challenges they present.
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