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‘New era’ of personalized cancer drugs

CANCER

Cancer is entering a ‘new era’ of personalized medicine with drugs targeted to the specific weaknesses in each patient’s tumor, say doctors.
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Precision medicine is one of the big themes at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Doctors say ‘breath-taking’ advances in the understanding of tumors are being used to unlock new treatments, reports the BBC.

But there are also concerns that patients are not getting access to the precision medicines we already have.

The premise of precision medicine is that cancers are not all the same – even those in the same tissue – so a tailored approach is needed.

It is the same approach as in football – you modify your tactics to face Barcelona, Newcastle United or Skegness Town.

Cancers are normal cells that have become corrupted by mutations in their DNA that leads to uncontrolled growth.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy kill everything, including healthy tissue.

The idea of precision medicine is to test every patient’s tumor, find the mutations that have become essential for it to survive and then select a targeted drug to counter-act the mutation – killing the tumor.

This concept is not new. Women with breast cancer already have their tumors analyzed to decide on treatment.

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