Personalised Cancer Medicine: the future is now

2016-02-10 06:00
Photo: supplied Alberlito Hospital staff raised awareness on cancer this week. Back row from left: Ronnel Naidoo, Robyn Briggs, Nadia Baderoon-Balland Silindokuhle Mdluli. Front row from left: Nqobile Mabaso, Rinelle Mudray and Lisa Campos.

Photo: supplied Alberlito Hospital staff raised awareness on cancer this week. Back row from left: Ronnel Naidoo, Robyn Briggs, Nadia Baderoon-Balland Silindokuhle Mdluli. Front row from left: Nqobile Mabaso, Rinelle Mudray and Lisa Campos.

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BEFORE personalised medicine, most patients with a specific type and stage of cancer received the same treatment.
However, it became clear that some treatments worked better for some patients, than for others.
The growth in the field of genetics has led researchers to find genetic differences in people and their tumours.
In turn, this explained many of the different responses to treatment.
The essence of personalised oncology lies in the use of biomarkers.
These biomarkers can be from tissue, serum, urine or imaging.
This means giving patients the optimum treatment according to their individual circumstances (including their genetics) and the molecular characteristics of their tumour.

A person with cancer may now still receive a standard treatment plan.

Surgery has been, and still is, the cornerstone of treatment for the majority of cancer patients, together with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

These treatments may have drawbacks and side effects, by killing cells that divide rapidly, they kill cancer cells but also heavily affect healthy cells, resulting in partial efficacy and unwanted side effects.

Drugs specifically acting against molecular targets in cancer cells – called targeted therapies – have been developed and are used to counteract some types of cancer in selected patients.

Targeted therapies are used to treat many kinds of tumours: certain types of lung, pancreatic, head and neck, liver, colorectal, breast, and melanoma and kidney cancers. Eg, Trastuzumab (Herceptin®) is a targeted therapy drug used to treat breast cancer.
This targeted therapy greatly improves the survival rate of women with breast cancer expressing the HER2 receptor.

TrueBeam is a ground-breaking radiotherapy technology in cancer treatment.
It uses a system to synchronise imaging, patient positioning, motion management, and treatment delivery of radiation therapy.
It can be used for all forms of advanced radiotherapy modalities including stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) which specially targets the tumour.

The TrueBeam device is superior to other radiotherapy devices, because it is more precise, it performs irradiation hitting treatment focus better.
It is faster, it decreases the duration of sessions. It provides a higher performance treatment process so it reduces the number of sessions. There’s a TrueBeam machine located in Richards’s Bay.

With continued research and by combining radiotherapy and targeted therapies curing cancer is now a reality.
-Alberlito Hospital (Supplied)

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