November 1, 2012
VIRGINIA POSTREL: Cancer Breakthroughs Meet Market Realities.
When analyzed at the molecular level, a cancer that has traditionally been viewed as a single disease commonly fragments into many different subtypes, each possibly requiring a different treatment. There are now tests for about 200 different such abnormalities, which may occur by themselves or in combination.
“We should realize first that every patient is different,” says Tsimberidou. “We cannot treat all patients with, say, colorectal cancer the same or think, for instance, that all metastatic liver disease is the same. In addition to the standard diagnostic procedures, we should perform a more refined tumor molecular analyses to better characterize every patient’s disease, and we have to tailor the treatment to the specific tumor and patient characteristics.”
The molecular understanding of cancer means both good news and bad news for improving treatment.
The good news is that more cures should be possible, with less waste from giving the wrong patients drugs that won’t work in their particular cases. That potentially could save money and significantly reduce suffering.