Monday, December 8, 2008
Medical Reports: Tracking Tumors
More than half of those diagnosed with cancer will undergo chemotherapy. For some, it works. For others, it doesn't. As Seven's Diana Diaz reports, a new personalized blood test can tell whether chemo is working or not by tracking tumors.
WSVN -- You would never know that just a few hours before she was making brownies with her kids. Ivelisse Page was told her stage three colon cancer had returned.
Ivelisse Page: "Now the CT scan shows there's something on my liver."
Earlier this year, she had the tumor and 15 inches of her colon removed.
Ivelisse Page: "It seems like at every point, my husband and I have gotten the rug slipped from under us."
But now, a new personalized blood test may be able to help Ivelisse decide her next plan of attack.
Oncologist, Dr. Luis Diaz: "It can tell you how much tumor you have, if you're responding to therapy or surgery or radiation."
As cancers grow, they shed fragments of DNA laced with mutated genes into the bloodstream. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed a new test that measures levels of those mutated genes. The test can not only detect the presence of a tumor, it can also track its progress and how it's responding to treatment. In a study of 18 patients, the blood test not only identified cancer in all of them but also measured the level of cancer.
Dr. Luis Diaz: "Right now, when you get a bio-marker test or even a CT scan, that might give you a hint of how much tumor you have, but it's not going to tell you exactly how much tumor you have that you can or can't see."
The test may also help predict who will get cancer.
Dr. Luis Diaz: "Ultimately, what we would ultimately like to do, is to give this test to everyone in the country and tell them, you know, we're concerned you have a cancer because the causative mutation that causes cancer is found in your blood."
Ivelisse hopes this test will help people like her make the right decision for themselves and their families.
Ivelisse Page: "None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. What we are guaranteed is today and making the most of it with our family and our loved ones."
Doctor Diaz says the test could be applied to any cancer that is linked to a known gene mutation, including breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Johns Hopkins, Kimmel Cancer Center
Valerie Mehl, Public Relations