Oct 20, 2004 - 3:21 am
Elizabeth Panke, a Cincinnati pathologist who five years ago was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer. The standard treatment, a course of the drugs carboplatin and taxol, failed to stop the cancer.
Although doctors advised her against CSRA testing, Dr. Panke, who was dying, sent samples of her tumor cells to two labs. The lab that used the cell-growth method recommended the same drugs that had already failed. The other lab, run by Dr. Nagourney, used the cell-death method, and suggested that the drugs cisplatin and Gemzar worked best on her tumor. Dr. Panke underwent treatment, and three weeks later, her cancer had disappeared.
"I was told by all the oncologists I went to not to do this test, that it was a waste of money and time,'' says Dr. Panke. "I'm an anecdotal case but I know a lot of other anecdotal cases who wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for this assay."
HEALTH JOURNAL By TARA PARKER-POPE
According to Clinical Oncologists For Individualized Therapy, current technologies of chemosensitivity testing (assay-testing) are based on cell-death and not on cell-growth. Today, chemosensitivity testing has progressed to the point where it is 85% - 90% effective. It may help you find the best option or save you from fruitless additional treatment.
Human Tumor Assay Journal states there are over 40 publications in peer-reviewed medical literature showing correlations between cell-death assay test results and the results of clinical chemotherapy in more than 2,000 patients. In every single study, patients treated with drugs active in the assays had a higher response rate than the entire group of patients as a whole. A large number of these peer-review publications also reported that patients treated with assay-tested "active" drugs enjoyed significantly longer survival of cancer than patients with assay-tested "negative" drugs.
There are a multiple of different cancer drug regimens, all of which have approximately the same probability of working. Chemosensitivity testing takes away a lot of this freedom to choose and narrows the selection to those drugs that have the highest probability to be successful but may have lower profitability for the oncologist, though it benefits the patient.
I think it is time to set aside empiric one-size-fits-all treatment in favor of recognizing that many forms of cancer represent heterogenous diseases, where the tumors of different patients have different responses to chemotherapy. It requires individualized treatment based on testing the individual properties of each patient's cancer.