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Cancer Treatments Are Better When They're Tailored to the Patient

Posted Jun 19 2009 10:13pm
A USA Today article today (January 14, 2009) proved quite interesting in several ways.

First of all, the newspaper featured a pie chart showing the costs of cancer.

$112 billion = Indirect costs of cancer as a result of illness (loss of productivity)
$18.2 billion = indirect costs of cancer because of early death
$89 billion = Direct medical costs.

The main thrust of the article is that tailoring cancer to fit a person's genetic makeup is more efficient that just blindly handing a cancer patient a prescription.

For instance, treating a colorectal cancer patient with the drug called Erbitux costs more than $61,00 for a typical treatment with 24 doses, according to a study presented Tuesday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in San Francisco.

Over the past year, several studies have shown that Erbitux works in patients with a certain genetic mutation, a mutation which occurs in 36% to 46% of tumors. Giving Erbitux to only those patients without the mutations would save the country up to $604 million per year.

Researchers are continuing their work, hoping to find markers for other cancer drugs as well.
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