Friday, February 19, 2010

Advances in DNA Sequencing and the Impact on Cancer Treatment

Johns Hopkins University's Kimmel Cancer Center Researchers took a novel approach in detecting cancer in patients. Instead of looking for tiny DNA changes within cells, they looked for large sections of the genome of tumor cells which have been rearranged. The DNA of tumors varies genetically from that of normal tissue, and the rearrangements are essentially a fingerprint of the cancer.

The findings suggest that by testing blood for this fingerprint, doctors will be able to learn whether a patient treated for cancer is free of disease or needs additional or more aggressive care.

Here’s a link to the article…

What makes this so important to me and millions of others in remission is the establishment of a clearer path for how long we continue maintenance therapy. To help put this in perspective, my maintenance therapy runs into the five figures annually and there is little evidence based guidance on how long this should continue. As long as this therapy is not harming me, the risk of a head and neck cancer recurrence (in pain, suffering, and dollars) far outweighs the cost of continuing the current maintenance regimen. I suspect there are millions of others in a similar situation.

The above article states that advance in the cost of sequencing a patient's entire genome has fallen sharply—to less than $10,000 now from about $1 million three years ago. Experts predict that the cost will soon get to about $1,000, potentially making it affordable for medical centers to routinely run the genome of patients with cancer and other diseases.

In our need as a nation to reign in health care costs while balancing the quality of care, this has the potential within the next 5 years to begin saving billions of dollars, yes that’s billions, without sacrificing health care quality.

Stay healthy and take care.


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