Cancer is one of the most frightening and most lethal medical conditions in the world today and almost all of us have been touched by in one way or another. It is for this reason that cancer research and new techniques are so important and that many of us watch this with great interest.
One recent development in the realm of cancer research is the concept of 'personalized anti-cancer treatment' which means that the cancer treatment is personalized and targeted more toward the specific cancer case that the individual has. Here we will look at what personalized anti-cancer treatment really means and why it is such a promising development.
What Is Personalized Anti-Cancer Treatment?
First of all, what does it mean if anti-cancer treatment is 'personalized'? Well essentially this means that the treatment being used is tailored specifically to not only the individual who is receiving the treatment, but also to the particular case of cancer and will look at how advanced it is and where exactly it is affecting the individual. This means that the treatment will take into account the genetics of the individual, allergies, and other factors and will that way be able to avoid unnecessary complications while treating the individual as quickly as possible.
Personalized anti-cancer treatment can be used in a range of different situations and cases, but it is most often reserved for use with those suffering from breast cancer. There are a particularly large number of treatments for breast cancer and this means that there is more room for error or improvement.
Where personalized anti-cancer treatment is used the individual will first be subjected to blood and DNA tests which will help to ascertain more about the nature of their own biochemistry as well as more about their allergies, blood type etc etc as well as the nature of the cancer itself. This can help the health professional to advise the best course of treatment to help stem the progress of the cancer, and at the same time help them to avoid potentially fatal or serious allergic reactions.
Every tumor is unique and involves different mutations. At the same time, bear in mind that for the FDA to approve an anti-cancer drug it need only be 20-30% successful. When you consider this you realize that there's a strong chance that a particular drug won't be effective in treating a tumor unless it is chosen based on DNA tests and tissue samples. While doctors will be able to use a trial and error approach to anti-cancer therapy, this gives the cancer more time to spread and makes it more difficult to cure.
Why Isn't All Anti-Cancer Therapy 'Personalized'?
Generally personalized anti-cancer therapy means just choosing the correct course of treatment – be that radiology, chemotherapy or surgery, based on the individual and the progress of their cancer – and all anti-cancer therapy is personalized to some extent. More specifically it also means using targeted chemical therapy to treat particular tumors and this greatly increases the survival rate of patients.
So the question is – why isn't everyone getting this kind of specifically targeted anti-cancer therapy? Well part of the reason is the prohibitive cost, and it costs upward of $30,000 per year to give one patient personalized anti-cancer therapy.
At the same time there is also no single standardized procedure for selecting anti-cancer therapies and this means that it can vary in its effectiveness. Likewise, even with personalized anti-cancer therapy there is still no guarantee that the chosen medication will be effective.
As a rough guide, most predictions based on DNA tests and bioanalysis will be able to recommend drugs with around 80-90% certainty. Sometimes they can guarantee the success of a certain drug but that will depend on the type of cancer. Personalized therapy is also more likely to be successful with certain types of cancer, and as mentioned particularly with breast cancer.
How to Get Personalized Anti-Cancer Therapy
Your doctor may not straight away recommend personalized anti-cancer therapy, so it is worth mentioning the process and discussing it with them. If you choose to go ahead then there are various companies that can provide bioanalysis based on tissue samples, but this must be ordered by your physician or oncologist. This may be covered by your insurance, but you will have to check with your provider and your contract.