On this week’s episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the advances in cancer treatment as a result of personalized and precision medicine. Unfortunately, these advances have been obviated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led countless patients to avoid necessary screenings and treatments.
According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, there have been 22 million missed screenings during the pandemic, resulting in 80,000 delayed or missed cancers. Given that roughly 30 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, routine screenings and early treatment are essential.
Dr. Bob interviews Dr. Razelle Kurzrock, co-founder of CureMatch, who discusses the revolution of personalized and precision cancer treatments. Dr. Kurzrock explains her experiments treating cancer by addressing genomic abnormalities. Genetic sequencing revealed to her that it wasn’t’ just one genomic abnormality driving cancer progression but many. Therefore, instead of matching individual drugs to treat cancers, she began using customized combination therapies and receiving superior treatment results.
Dr. Kurzrock describes cancers as “snowflakes” because they are each distinct and enormously complicated. Each abnormality driving cancer is very different. This finding suggests the once-sized-fits-all approach to treating cancer is flawed. Instead, individual patients must be matched to the appropriate set of drugs.
The scientific literature overwhelmingly shows that such targeted therapy is superior to the standard of care. Studies show that the two-year survival rate for such highly-matched treatment is over 60 percent vs. less than 20 percent following the standard of care. In addition, adverse events were lower among those receiving such customized care. These results offer immense promise in the fight against cancer in the years to come.
Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews Samantha Smith from Patients Rising Concierge. Sam offers advice on Medicare enrollment during this open enrollment season. She recommends marking down the start and end of enrollment season so that you don’t miss it. She also suggests comparing the prescription drug coverage of various alternatives and noting whether current providers are in-network so that you don’t have to find new doctors. She describes her own difficult journey with Medicare and warns patients that the program can be hard to navigate. She calls on patients who are having difficulties to contact her at Patients Rising Concierge, and she will do her best to help them.