Gene tests might become a solution for determining the right treatment for various types of cancer. Now gene tumor boards are the ones that take care of cancer patients and they decide which method would work best for their disease.
This method will study first the cancer genes of the patient, and then they will find the treatments that match their mutations. “We dissect the patient’s tumor with what I call the molecular microscope,” declared Dr. Razelle Kurzrock, who started a board at the University of California, San Diego. “I think every patient needs it. Most people don’t agree with me — yet. In five years, it may be malpractice not to do genomics,” Kurzrock added.
How to get gene-targeting drugs?
First of all, you will need to get tested. Doctors will have to check if there are mutations in the gene. Originally, this process required a tissue simple, but modern techniques can discover tumor DNA in the blood of the patient. This is called liquid biopsy, but sadly it costs $6000 and it is too expensive for many patients. Worse than that, many insurers won’t cover it since they consider this method experimental.
The results will be then analyzed by the gene tumor board that should be able to find a treatment that is suitable for you. However, this method is still relatively new, and many people don’t trust it. It will take some time until tumor profiling will advance even more, although we can see it evolve every day.
“Just because a mutation occurs it doesn’t mean that drug is going to work in that cancer,” declared Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer. Nevertheless, the cases where the gene-guided treatment did work has some impressive results, and there has been a patient that had her tumor shrunk by half in two months.