“Precision Medicine” is a medical breakthrough that effectively treats cancer and reduces its side effects. The benefits of the treatment include patients being able to return to living normal lives, a decrease in the time needed to try different types of medication, and a reduction in the overall costs of long-term treatment. This new form of cancer treatment is called “Targeted Therapy”
Let’s first understand how cancer develops. It begins in just one cell of the body which has been subject to change in its genetic make-up. Normally, if there are any changes, however small, our bodies rush to find it. Then, the body’s white blood cells destroy the cancer cells before they grow. However, if the cancerous cell were able to grow and become stronger over a period of time, or if the human immune system weakens to a certain point, then that cancer could spread to other organs in the body. Unfortunately, a cancerous tumor that is just 2-3 centimeters in size may be home to hundreds of millions of cancerous cells. This makes treatment extremely difficult as there is no suitable medicine able to destroy every single cancerous cell.
What we use is a course of treatment referred to as “Targeted Therapy.” It is a choice of medication which specifically targets the cancerous cells present in the cancer patient. This type of treatment produces significantly better results with notably reduced side effects when compared to chemotherapy drugs. Not only does targeted therapy find and destroy rapidly reproducing cancer cells, but the treatment also leaves unaffected cells intact. This includes leaving white blood, digestive system and hair follicle cells unharmed. However, not everyone who is suffering from cancer can receive targeted therapy medication. In cases where targeted therapy is suitable, doctors usually recommend it for cancer patients.
Before beginning any course of medication, the patient should first meet a specialist. This allows doctors to examine the patient in order to assess which medications are compatible as well as which will have the best results and least side effects. To start with, oncologists will carry out an assessment on the genetic make-up of the cancerous tumor found to detect any irregularities in how it is growing. Then, accordingly, they will prescribe medicines that can restrict or alter the work of the specific cells in question, efficiently. At the same time, the treatment is likely to also reduce the chances of the cancer recurring.
As a result, it can even be an effective treatment against advanced stage cancers. And the best bit is “Targeted Therapy” can be used to treat numerous forms of cancer, including lung, liver, colon, kidney, breast and ovarian cancer.
The Optimal Study, Lancet Oncol. 2011;12(8):735. Epub 2011 Jul 23.
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