Patients given a revolutionary cancer treatment that is ‘personalised’ to their own disease are SIX TIMES more likely to survive for 10 years, concludes major study

 In Genomics News, Genomics Research, Personalized Medicine

A revolutionary treatment ‘personalised’ to patients for their own cancer can increase their chances of survival by six times.

Treatment tailored to cancer patients has been described as the biggest medical breakthrough since chemotherapy.

Instead of treating someone based on where the cancer is in their body, like the breast or prostate, doctors run genetic tests on their individual tumours.

Now a study shows testing tumours to work out how aggressive a patient’s cancer is and which drugs are needed helps people live longer.

In a study of more than 3,700 people with incurable or untreatable cancer, six per cent given personalised medicine survived the next decade, compared to just one per cent of those treated the traditional way.

Researchers found terminal patients who had exhausted all their treatment options had a better chance of survival when they received therapy tailored to their individual tumours

The study was in people with multiple advanced cancers who had exhausted treatment options.

But experts say the same benefit could be seen in less serious cancer patients who start out with a much better prognosis.

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Oncology in Chicago.

Lead author Professor Apostolia Maria Tsimberidou, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, said: ‘This is the first and largest study, with the longest follow-up, to assess the impact of precision medicine approaches on survival across multiple cancer types.

‘Our findings show that molecular testing of tumours using next-generation sequencing can be used to optimise therapy and should be taken into consideration when selecting therapy for patients with difficult to treat tumours.’

Treatment ‘matched’ to patients’ genes

Using these results to give people ‘matched’ treatments based on the biology of their tumours, 15 per cent of these patients went on to survive the next three years.

That was almost double the seven per cent survival rate for those treated with ‘unmatched’ drugs.

Most people given personalised medicine took experimental drugs in clinical trials.

This has transformed the way cancer is treated

Nell Barrie, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Drugs that target changes in a patient’s cancer cells have transformed the way cancer is treated, as this study illustrates.’

Dr Catherine Diefenbach, an oncologist at NYC Health and Hospitals in New York, said: ‘Now with faster and more robust genetic tests, we can help even more patients by treating the cancer based on its genetic make-up rather than solely on its location in the body.’

The study gave 711 cancer patients matched personalised treatment, which often involved blocking the function of genes altered and mutated by cancer.

Another 596 received more traditional non-matched therapies.

All patients should have access

Many NHS cancer patients receive genetic testing, but more detailed next-generation sequencing is still not used widely.

Professor Tsimberidou added: ‘All patients should have access to next-generation sequencing and I believe in the next few years we are going to see this approach dramatically improving outcomes.

‘We need to know what is really causing these diseases so we can treat them properly.’

Source: Healthcare IT News

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