Wednesday, April 05, 2006 - A New Approach to Treating Cancer - A New Approach to Treating Cancer: "Cancer has long been defined by where it is found in the body. Patients have breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer.

In a significant shift, researchers are coming to believe that cancer comprises hundreds of subgroups based more on genetic makeup than location.

This new thinking means that instead of focusing cancer treatment on organs, the emphasis increasingly is going to be on finding the specific genetic changes driving an individual's cancer and targeting them with drugs. Some people who have cancers in different organs may end up taking the same drugs because common genetic mutations are involved.

Already, researchers have identified a number of genetic variations, resulting in some of the most exciting breakthroughs in oncology: Doctors now believe that the drugs Tarceva and Iressa work best in a certain subgroup of patients with lung cancer, Gleevec in particular subtypes of leukemia and sarcoma patients, and Herceptin in certain breast-cancer patients. Cancer researchers also continue to announce discoveries of new cancer subtypes in liver, brain and prostate cancer, among others."

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