Monday, October 29, 2007
Medical Reports: Custom Chemo
When it comes to cancer, no two patients' tumors react the same way to chemo. But now there's an experimental test that could show doctors which drugs work the best for each particular patient. Seven's Richard Lemus tells us more about Custom Chemo.
WSVN -- Ask any cancer patient. Chemotherapy is often the hardest part of treatment. It has been for Carmen Dominguez. She's undergoing rounds of chemo for uterine cancer.
Carmen Dominguez: "The surgery was fine, the worst part is definitely chemo. You have no energy, you feel fatigued for a couple of days."
And then there's the dreaded thought that the cancer could come back.
Carmen Dominguez: "Every once in a while you get this thought in your mind, 'Oh, my God, what if this doesn't work?'"
Often it takes trying several different drugs and suffering through bouts of chemo until doctors find the one drug that works best for that particular patient.
Dr. Manuel Penalver: "Every patient is different, just because one patient tumor responded to a certain drug, doesn't mean the next patient will respond the same way. So we want to customize, we want to do what's best for each individual patient."
Dr. Penalver, a gynecologic cancer surgeon at Doctor's Hospital, is participating in a nationwide study aimed at customizing chemo.
When he removes the cancerous tumor during surgery, a piece of that tumor will be sent to a lab.
There they will use a battery of drugs to see which drug comes out on top.
Dr. Manuel Penalver: "This tumor will be studied to which drug it will respond to best, so, when the patient recurs, we will know which drug is the best therapy for that particular patient."
It's being tested on patients with uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers.
Dr. Manuel Penalver: "We are excited about this test because I think it will be most helpful for the worst cancer that we deal with, and that is ovarian carcinoma. The unfortunate thing is after standard therapy, many patients recur with ovarian cancer."
This test comes a few months too late for Carmen, but her hope is for others to get better, faster care.
Carmen: "If it's almost tailor-made for that type of cancer, it would be fantastic for all types of cancer patients. I think it will make a world of difference."
And her hope for herself is that her cancer never comes back.
Carmen: "I really hope that my cancer is in total remission at the end of the treatment."
The test will last for the next six months to a year.
And if it becomes widely available, it could give patients a much better chance of beating their cancer with fewer delays and side effects.
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