Killing cancer with
chemotherapy has been compared to lighting a candle with a blowtorch. You'll definitely
get that wick lit, but you'll also render everything around the candle
into smoldering heap of cinders.
Today, thankfully, that is changing. Advances in chemotherapy are allowing
oncologists to target the disease without weakening the rest of the body.
Patients feel better during treatment, they often don't experience
hair loss and they don't suffer as much damage to their immune systems.
Even more so, advanced institutions are now using genomic profiling, or
precision medicine, to provide further targeted approaches to cancer care.
Hoag Family Cancer Institute began applying precision medicine to the fight against
lung cancer, testing lung tumors through the nationally recognized Caris Life Sciences
laboratory to determine the most effective treatment option for each individual patient.
As the name implies, precision medicine works by honing in on the precise
molecular mutations that create cancerous tumors. All tumors have molecular
mutations in their DNA. By testing the molecular profile of the tumor
cells, doctors can discover what mutations a particular tumor has and
tailor a treatment specifically to that mutation.
Previously, patients who wanted access to precision medicine in lung cancer
had to go to big academic centers. Now, it is right in their own backyard.
As the leading lung cancer center in the county, Hoag is piloting the precision
medicine program for lung cancer patients, with plans to expand it to
more areas of cancer treatment.
Each month, between 200 and 300 lung cancer patients are diagnosed and
treated at Hoag. Through this pilot program, all of them will receive
a lung tumor biopsy that will help direct their course of treatment.
As a member of the Caris Centers of Excellence for Precision Medicine Network,
Hoag is able to compare tumor cell data with leading cancer centers at
major academic research facilities across the United States, giving our
patients access to the most advanced clinical trials and treatment options
This means that our patients will know exactly what is causing their tumor
and will have access to the precise treatment to fight it — even
if that treatment is still being developed.
These newer medications can make a powerful difference in our patients'
lives and they will no longer have to travel far and wide to get the most
state-of-the-art lung cancer care available.
DARYL PEARLSTEIN is program director of
lung cancer at Hoag Hospital.
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