Effective Cancer Treatment with Genome Science
A major factor that is changing the way oncologists treat cancer care is genome science. Genomics is the study of DNA sequencing and how it transfers information. Just as letters make up words that the human brain then translates into meaning, DNA possesses genomic information that the body’s cells and tissues translate and interpret into proteins, which control the function of cells in our body to determine organ function.
With cancer cells, small changes in a person’s cells can change the genomic sentence causing the cell to create errors in the amino acid sequence of proteins. This can sometimes cause rapid growth of the cells or damage neighboring cells. The study of these cancer genomes helps oncologists better understand a cancer’s blueprint and develop effective cancer treatments.
Scientists use genome science to study and discover which specific letters cause cells to become cancerous. The test gives physicians a blueprint for properly treating and preventing tumor growth. It also lets them precisely prescribe cancer treatments based on an individual’s tumor blueprint, saving time and money by not prescribing therapy that would be ineffective based on guidelines or pharmaceutical company recommendations and focus therapy based on the biology of that individual’s cancer.
Advantages of Genome Science for Treating Cancer
Genomic testing offers many benefits to physicians, patients and their families. This testing enables physicians to treat patients based on specific cancer-causing signal transduction pathways, which can be different for every patient. The test examines more than 20,000 genes in the tumor at one time, analyzing all aspects of gene expression as a molecular profile. This increases patient-specific treatment and helps doctors to become more familiar with each patient. As a result, patients know they are receiving treatment based on the science of gene expression profiling, Personalized Medicine and individualized cancer care; not Precision Medicine invented terminology by big pharmaceutical companies to control tests that lead you to use their drugs, but do not look at the blueprint of the patient’s tumor.
Another benefit of personalized cancer treatment is its cost. Without the insights provided by genomic testing, physicians would have to try multiple treatments before finding the most effective cancer cure. This leads to expensive tests and treatments that may not be beneficial to the patient. Testing enables physicians to eliminate unsuccessful treatments and avoid dangerous side effects. Using molecularly targeted therapies selected based on gene expression profile of an individual patient’s tumor blueprint allows a better quality of life while receiving more effective treatment targeting the signal transduction pathways used by an individual’s cancer to divide and grow, invade other tissues or organs and inhibit blood vessels growing to the cancer cells.
Genomic testing is also helping oncologists during treatment. During the course of treatment, gene targets may change leaving the current treatment unsuccessful. With genomic testing, oncologists are able to continuously test and change the drug treatments according to the specific changes in the patient’s body. Patients can now begin down the path of recovery without losing precious and life-saving time.
After the testing has been completed and the physician understands the specific type of cancer they are dealing with, treatment begins.
Types of Cancer Treatment
There are primarily three types of cancer treatment:
- Cytotoxic Chemotherapy
- Molecularly-Targeted Therapy
- Biologic or Immunotherapy
Cytotoxic Chemotherapy is an aggressive approach to fighting cancer. The National Foundation for Cancer Research refers to it as “an atomic bomb, destroying everything in its path with the hopes of wiping out the cancer cells.” The downside of this treatment is that it will not stop the spread of cancer cells that may have survived the therapy.
Molecularly-Targeted Therapies are a form of cancer treatment that directly attacks the mutated cancer genes. Targeted cancer therapies destroy cancer cells by targeting specific proteins within cancer cells and often sparing the normal ones. However, if the cancer cells become resistant, then Next Generation Sequencing will need to be performed to detect and change the current therapy to a specific drug targeting the mutation created by the resistance since the current molecularly targeted therapy will no longer interact with the protein in the dividing cancer cells.
Biologic or Immunotherapy
Finally, Biologic or Immunotherapy involves activating the patient’s immune system to attack and destroy the tumor cells by inhibiting recognition molecules that turn off the immune system to attack the tumor in the hope that this will allow the tumor cells to be destroyed by the mechanisms of immune system destruction.
Finally, infusion therapy involves administering medicine intravenously. These cancer-fighting medications and treatments are fast acting, and healthcare professionals are there throughout the process to make sure patient are comfortable and safe.
Personalized Cancer Treatment in Raleigh, NC
Personalized Hematology/Oncology of Wake Forest is one of the very few private practices in the United States and is the only private practice in the Triangle that focuses on personalized medicine or personalized cancer treatment with a compassionate quality of care.
We tap into genomic science to deliver optimal, safe, and cost-effective chemotherapy, molecularly-targeted therapies and biologic or immunotherapies, while ensuring that adult cancer patients are not under-treated or over-treated. Our oncologist is known for his expertise in chemotherapy, molecularly-targeted therapies and biologic therapies, while managing the patients’ side effects and closely monitoring therapy responses. Our practice collaborates with private community practices and cancer centers to translate the latest cancer research into a therapy customized for each patient.
Personalized Hematology/Oncology of Wake Forest also understands that cancer treatment can be emotionally and physically draining for patients and their families. Therefore, the center offers a comfortable setting for patients and their families to receive treatment. Our nurturing staff is dedicated to providing a warm environment for patients during this wearisome time.
To find out more about genomic-based cancer treatment and if it is right for you or your loved one, contact our office to schedule a consultation with our oncologist.