Treatments for cancer far outweigh traditional methods

Cancer treatments that attack tumors based on their individual genetic characteristics – not their location in the body – far surpbad traditional methods, extending survival to twice as many patients, a study said on Saturday.

The field of precision-targeted therapy medicine involves tumor testing to look for clues about its genetic mutations and pairing patients with new drugs designed to block cancer growth at the molecular level.

Patient-directed options increased dramatically in the last two decades and one day and badysis of cell-free DNA can become the standard of care, said lead researcher Apostolia Tsimberidou, professor of therapeutic cancer research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas.

"I am optimistic that in the next few years we will drastically improve the outcomes of cancer patients with the increasing implementation of precision medicine," he told reporters at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeti ng in Chicago, the annual conference about the biggest cancer in the world.

Tsimberidou and his colleagues began studying the impact of these therapies in 2007, after seeing the success of Gleevec (imatinib), a revolutionary drug approved by US regulators in 2001 that showed enormous success against chronic myeloid leukemia.

Their study, called IMPACT, is the first and the largest to observe survival in a large number of cancers and many different targeted therapies.

More than 3,700 patients at Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center enrolled from 2007 to 2013.

All had advanced cancers, or "end-stage disease," which involves cancers of the gastrointestinal, bad, or lung tracts. Melanoma and cancer of the female reproductive tract were also included, along with rarer types of cancer.

The enrollees had generally tried at least four, and sometimes up to 16, other treatments that could not stop the growth of their cancer.

More than 1,300 tumors were found with at least one genetic change. Of these, 711 received a treatment that matched the biology of the tumor. Another 596 received a treatment that did not match, often because there was no treatment compatible for the patient at that time.

After three years, 15 percent of people treated with targeted cancer therapies were alive, compared with seven percent in target groups.

After 10 years, six percent of the target group was alive, compared to only one percent in the other group.

– Still far from a cure –

In general, targeted therapies led to an average of four months of life without progression of cancer, known as progression-free survival, and an additional nine months of overall survival.

Those who were treated with traditional approaches lived for less than three months without cancer, and 7.3 months more In general,

Targeted therapies "significantly improved overall survival," said Catherine Diefenbach, an oncologist at the University of New York. York (NYU) Langone.

This method of molecular determination of tumors, understanding their gene tics and how to act on that "is the wave of the future," added Diefenbach, who was not involved in the study.

For Diefenbach, the study illustrates a paradigm shift in cancer treatment, whereby cancers no longer receive treatment in the "neighborhood" of the body in which they arise.

"Before precision medicine, patients were treated according to the type of cancer they had," he told reporters.

"But a patient with bad cancer, as we have heard, may have a cell that looks much more like a patient with lung cancer, than another bad cancer."

Diefenbach also noted that "most of these patients received drugs that were already on the list (US Food and Drug Administration) Approved by the FDA or in advanced clinical trials, so that people do not have to go out and reinvent the wheel to treat these patients in a completely new way. "

The field of precision medicine has grown tremendously since the study began, Tsimberidou said, recalling that in 2007," we tested no more than one or two genes.

"Now patients are tested for hundreds of genes, amplifications and mutations, in addition to immune markers," she said.

A patient gets a mammogram to check for the presence of bad cancer, a disease that "may have a cell that looks much more like a patient with lung cancer, genetically, than another bad cancer," according to a researcher who investigates targeted therapies

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