Tumor gene testing urged to tell if drug targets your cancer

Monday, July 17, 2017

Washington Post, by Lauran Neergaard

Colon cancer. Uterine cancer. Pancreatic cancer. Whatever the tumor, the more gene mutations lurking inside, the better chance your immune system has to fight back.

That’s the premise behind the recent approval of a landmark drug, the first cancer therapy ever cleared based on a tumor’s genetics instead of the body part it struck first. Now thousands of patients with worsening cancer despite standard treatment can try this immunotherapy — as long as genetic testing of the tumor shows they’re a candidate.

“It’s like having a lottery ticket,” said Johns Hopkins oncologist Dr. Dung Le, who helped prove the new use for the immunotherapy Keytruda. “We’ve got to figure out how to find these patients, because it’s such a great opportunity for them.”

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