How Understanding Cancer on the Molecular Level is Changing Treatment

Former Reason Editor Virginia Postrel (read her Reason archive) has a must-read two-part series up at Bloomberg View about how researchers are redefining "cancer."

Snippet from part one:

An enormous study published last month in the journal Nature analyzed samples from 825 breast-cancer tumors, using five different tests to find mutations in different aspects of their genetics. Researchers crunched the resulting data to classify the cancers into four general types: Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-enriched, and basal-like. (They also identified a fifth type, dubbed normal-like, but didn’t have enough samples to adequately study it.) Given its underlying genetics, each type might be susceptible to a specific treatment approach.

The study refines the way oncologists understand the different versions of the disease. The biggest news was that the basal-like cancers had more in common with the most common ovarian cancer, called serous, than with other types of breast cancer.

Whole thing here.

The second article underscores the implications for treatment:

When analyzed at the molecular level, a cancer that has traditionally been viewed as a single disease commonly fragments into many different subtypes, each possibly requiring a different treatment. There are now tests for about 200 different such abnormalities, which may occur by themselves or in combination.

“We should realize first that every patient is different,” says Tsimberidou. “We cannot treat all patients with, say, colorectal cancer the same or think, for instance, that all metastatic liver disease is the same. In addition to the standard diagnostic procedures, we should perform a more refined tumor molecular analyses to better characterize every patient’s disease, and we have to tailor the treatment to the specific tumor and patient characteristics.”

Read it here.

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  • robc||

    Reason was better back when they posted Postrel articles.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    I originally fell in love with Reason in its Postrel days.

  • robc||

    Alt text should just say "Drink".

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Nick's falling down on the alt-text job, I'd say. Bad Jacket, bad! No cookie for you!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Sadly, just labeling who it is is an improvement other what he's been doing the rest of the week.

  • Tim||

    Didn't she marry Crocodile Dundee?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “We should realize first that every patient is different,”

    No

    fucking

    way.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    “We should realize first that every patient is different,” says Tsimberidou. “We cannot treat all patients with, say, colorectal cancer the same or think, for instance, that all metastatic liver disease is the same. In addition to the standard diagnostic procedures, we should perform a more refined tumor molecular analyses to better characterize every patient’s disease, and we have to tailor the treatment to the specific tumor and patient characteristics.”

    That's racist.

  • Terry Michael||

    If you are brave enough to break away from 19th Century germ theory and accept the argument that breast cancer cannot be "caused" by a single factor or pathogen, you might then want to wander over into another area of Big Allopathic Medicine's LaLa Land, where you'll find medical science "experts" who hallucinate that a single mysterious retroviral pathogen known as "HIV" can cause an amorphous immune deficiency syndrome they call "AIDS." If you would like to educate yourself on that subject, which the print and online magazine of "Free Minds" will not allow you to do in its pages, bless their hearts, you can go to my collected research and writing on the biggest fraud in medical history, here:
    http://www.terrymichael.net/Ht.....eport.html --Terry Michael, who someday may persuade Dr. Gillespie to allow his readers to read some facts about the fraud of SEX=HIV=AIDS=DEATH.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Cool story, bro

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    It's not a toomah

  • Mensan||

    This article reminded me:

    It's MOVEMBER!

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