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New research is pointing the way towards developing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments that are custom tailored to your tumor’s genes. The days of general cancer treatments are coming to a close.

Recent studies have shown that those expensive colon cancer drugs, Erbitux and Vectibix, do not work in 40% of patients. As a result, oncologists are now requiring patients to get a genetic test before the two leading drug treatments.

This explosion in research has led scientists to try an develop genetically tailored treatments for breast cancer and lung cancer. The medical community is pushing hard to develop such treatments because most medications today only benefit about half of patients. The development of genetically tailored cancer treatments will help reduce the “trial and error” approach to cancer treatment that has been generally used.

The “trial and error” method has led to patients experiencing side effects without any real medical benefit, not to mention the extreme cost of each treatment. The genetic test recomended for colon cancer patients costs about $300, and it is estimated that requiring this test before prescribing treatment could save $600 million – by keeping drugs that cost as much as $10,000 per month away from patients that would receive no benefit from them.

A test that is being given to breast cancer patients in order to predict the risk level of relapsing, which will help patients decide whether to undergo chemotherapy. The question is now becoming “what type of chemo will be the most effective?”

An experimental test recently unveiled examines 50 breast cancer genes in order to determine which of the four subtypes the patient has. This may end up classifying a multitude of “new” breast cancers. Using a more targeted methodology, doctors may be able to help patients avoid chemo and go with hormone therapy instead, after surgery.

Lung cancer patients are being recruited to participate in a study that will hopefully develop a new path for the treatment of the disease. Hopefully these studies will lead to a medical break through in how we combat this terrible disease.

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