Jan 28, 2012 - 1:09 pm
I wanted to share an extremely valuable resource that is helping guide my mother's Stage 4B uterine cancer chemotherapy treatment. Most important for everyone to know is that this was NOT something that was provided by her oncologist. My two sisters and I had to research this testing/profiling ourselves and insist it be included in her treatment plan. One of my sisters is a social worker and specializes in helping coordinate medical care, so she knows first hand how to advocate and push for getting the best care possible.
This testing is called the Caris molecular profiling "Target Now" screening. More details here: http://www.carislifesciences.com/oncology-target-now
Basically it is a very detailed test done BEFORE chemotherapy to determine the best possible "cocktail" for that individual. Physicians will often suggest the standard set of chemo drugs for an individual to combat their cancer type, but everyone is different and some types made not be effective as others. This can be known ahead of time with this testing called a tissue assay.
As some background, my mom is 73, lives is San Diego, and is being treated at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center. This is a top notch center, and she's been taken care of well. She's had six rounds of chemo and her CA125 marker is down to 32, however, because she was diagnosed with Stage 4B, it has spread to form a tumor in her abdomen region of about 4cm so she'll need to have more chemo. Radiation and surgery are not recommended given her age and the fact she already had a full hysterectomy.
Here's where this "Target Now" research has come into play. Her oncologist reviewed her case and first suggested Ifex (Isofamide) for her next round of chemo. Then, after reviewing her Caris report, he changed his opinion and suggested she have Adriamycin. The bottom line:
If we had not insisted this "Target Now" testing be done she would have been given a chemo drug that was not as effective in combating her cancer. For my mom, who is elderly and chemically sensitive, any extra toxicity in her system is a big problem. We avoided that.
I will also tell you upfront it was an ordeal to get this done right. Some insurance will cover the Caris testing, so the cost wasn't the worst factor. The toughest part was having to hound the doctor's office with phonecalls to follow up at every point to ensure the blood work was sent to Caris, wait for the 2-3 weeks turnaround time, and then hound the doctor's office again to be sure the results were read. In our experience, the doctor had no idea was this extra testing was for, and while he welcomed the information, his staff didn't know any of the protocol for getting him to "sign off", and they/he turned our requests for paperwork down at first, because they didn't understand anything about it so we had to backtrack several times.
Time was wasted at several points in the process, but the end goal has been reached, thankfully!
I know this is a very long post, but I wanted to share one of the most key pieces I've learned so it might help one of you!
I posted this is in the uterine cancer forum as well, and I've answered follow up questions there if you'd like to review them.