You have a choice as to where to receive your cancer treatment. And it may be the most important choice of your life.
Genetics and cancer
Within the human genome there are many individual genes that control cell growth. When a gene has an error in its DNA code, it can cause an alteration or “mutation” that leads to uncontrolled cell growth. Malignant tumors are formed when multiple mutations in different genes occur in a specific group of cells.
Genomic testing—not to be confused with genetic testing—looks for variations within genetic material, such as in a tissue sample taken from a tumor. The process, called Next Generation Sequencing or NGS, can identify which variations may be treated with molecular therapy.
More precise, less toxic treatment
This approach is less about the location of the cancer (e.g. lung or breast) and more about the factors that are driving cancer growth. Genomic tumor assessment enables the oncologist to “profile” the cancer in such a way as to understand which type of therapy will be most effective, and can even determine if the patient is likely to experience a recurrence of their cancer.
Traditional chemotherapy drugs target rapidly growing cells within the body. While this can halt tumor growth, it also impacts healthy cells that also grow rapidly, such as those in the nails, blood, stomach and hair. This can be highly debilitating to the patient, causing nausea, hair loss and a weakened immune system, which makes the patient vulnerable to infection and life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia.
Molecular therapy, on the other hand, targets the specific molecules involved in cancer cell growth. They work by interrupting the biochemical pathway that is responsible for the development, growth and spread of the cancer. This more individualized, targeted approach has shown to be highly effective and better tolerated by the patient.