The classical approach of differentiating forms of cancer purely by their location in the body is losing popularity in the field of oncology. Rather, the prevailing ideology is that every cancer is different and that you really need to look at the molecular and genetic makeup of a tumor in order to plan the best method of attack. With this in mind, researchers and physicians at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester have developed a 50-gene cancer panel test that allows for finely tuned, individualized cancer treatment.
“When I talk to patients normally, I talk about chemotherapy [as] ‘one size fits all’”, explains Mayo Clinic oncologist Axel Grothey, M.D (left). The gene panel test, on the other hand, represents an endeavor to “find out what really drives your cancer, what is specific of your cancer compared to other cancers.” One major aim of the panel is to reduce redundant treatments done without a full understanding of whether it will help. The other, of course, is to utilize the drugs available today, which are getting better at targeting pathways influenced by genes. When the cancer can be fought by inhibiting these molecular pathways, such drugs are more effective and less destructive than traditional chemotherapy.
The gene panel is known as CANCP, which is an abbreviation for Solid Tumor Targeted Cancer Gene Panel by Next-Generation Sequencing. It scans regions in 50 genes that are known to be both related to cancer growth and treatable by modern medicine. In this way, CANCP truly is the next step in individualized medicine, providing a quick and accurate diagnosis without going through treatment trial and error. In a Mayo Clinic news release, molecular geneticist Benjamin Kipp, Ph.D. (left), lead designer of CANCP, talks about the advantages of the test, namely how it “focuses on results that oncologists can use to help find the right drug the first time.” This approach will save time, money, and lives as the test becomes available to Mayo Clinic patients and to worldwide providers through Mayo Medical Laboratories.
The pioneering approach of the doctors and researchers at Mayo Clinic regularly draws attention, patients, and funding for the clinic. For some further reading on research and funding at Mayo Clinic, please click the button below:
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