Trying Different Drugs on Different Cancers

A recent New York Times article “A Faster Way to Try Many Drugs on Many Cancers” by Gina Kolata gives a new insight into cancer treatment. The article features the story of 78-year-old, Erika Hurwitz, whose rare cancer of the white blood cells didn’t respond to both chemotherapy and radiation. Her cancer was treated due to a basket study, which saw whether mutations respond to specific drugs. More and more drugs are being developed to attack cancer-causing mutations in tumors. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is one of the medical facilities that is host to a federally funded national program that will participate in basket studies, which are much smaller and will lump together different kinds of cancer to figure out which new drugs attack mutated tumors. These basket studies move very quickly which is beneficial to those it helps because it does not take years to find a cure. It also is the most cost effective way to do research and test different treatments.

Dr. Padzur noted that there are significant reasons why these studies are gaining attention:

Conventional therapy might give a response rate of 10 or 20 percent. The newer drug has a response rate of 50 or 60 percent….When you are having a big effect, it is kind of jaw dropping. These are response rates we haven’t seen before in diseases.

Essentially, these studies give hope to those who have very few chances left. However, there is a downside to every study. Not all basket studies work for everyone and there is no control group when you have such rare cancers. Every person can have a different mutation.

Israel’s Rabin Medical Center is home to the Davidoff Cancer Center, which is the leading oncology center in Israel and the Middle East. To learn more about the Davidoff Cancer Center click here.

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