Friday, November 14, 2014

Personalized cancer care is looking more like a crap shoot


All sorts of research is being done on personalized cancer care. But it looks like a crap shoot to me.

There have been some recent developments:

"This summer, a Mass. General team showed that it was possible to isolate rare tumor cells circulating in the blood and analyze them to understand how a patient’s cancer was changing. Other researchers have been working on developing mouse avatars, in which a patient’s tumor is grown in a lab animal in which new therapies can be tested."

This is pretty cool. But there are still problems. For example, researchers have been taking cancer tissue from patients who's cancer has returned and then bombard it with different therapies to see which ones work. The premise is then that the treatment will work in the patient.

"Researchers must show that the drug predictions that seem so promising in a dish actually work in patients. They also will need to deal with technological issues, such as the time it takes to grow patients’ tumor cells in a dish — between two and six months in the study, and not every attempt was successful."

Not only does the time to grow the tumor cells prolong the wait for treatment - which cancer patients with a recurrence do not have. But then there is no promise that the treatment will work.

So its a crap shoot. The patient has a choice - try the best treatment available now or wait two to six months to see if something better might be chosen from a petri dish? Does anyone have a different suggestion?

Or maybe 'more research is needed' as they always say.

1 comment:

Sharon Greene said...

I had no idea it took so long to grow a tumour in a Petri dish.