Research is suggesting that offering genetic testing to lung cancer patients has the potential to save lives.
Findings reported in Science Translational Medicine found that a study of 5,000 discovered that genetic profiling of lung tumours boosted survival rates through better targeting of chemotherapy drugs. This could lead the way for personalised medicine.
Cancer Research UK has said that matching patients to a personalised treatment is still in its infancy, reports the BBC.
The standard way to diagnose lung cancer is to look at cells from a tumour under the microscope. This helps doctors make decisions about the best treatment to offer, as the cancer can be classified into different tumour types. In recent year’s scientist have been making progress in understanding how cancer can be treated by matching drugs to the genetic make-up of a tumour.
A team in German, led by Dr Roman Thomas, have carried out genetic testing on lung tumour samples from about 5,000 patients to spot genetic differences in lung cancer cells. What they discovered was that whilst some tumours look similar under the microscope they actually belong to different subgroups.
Patients receiving therapy based on genetic profiling of their tumour had a better prognosis, the study revealed. Researchers say that diagnostic genetic testing of lung cancer alongside tailored treatment may improve patient survival in the future. “Our findings provide support for broad implementation of genome-based diagnosis of lung cancer”.
Dr Sarah Hazell, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information officer said that the way scientists think about cancer is changing. “This research highlights a growing trend of using drugs matched to the individual genetic profile of a tumour,” she said.
“For lung cancer though, it’s too early to claim a victory, as it’s still one of the hardest to treat cancers, and matching patients to a personalised treatment is still in its infancy.”
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