Beths story: Beth Strow, M.D., is a dermatologist in Springfield, Ill. She traveled to Vanderbilt seeking treatment for advanced melanoma.
Why she chose Vanderbilt: In 2009, Dr. Strows chances of surviving six months were estimated at 10 percent. At Vanderbilt, she found a promising new drug being studied in a clinical trial and an expert Jeff Sosman, M.D. who has led national studies of the latest treatments for melanoma.
How Vanderbilt is personalizing cancer care:
At Vanderbilt, we test the tumor DNA of patients with certain cancers including melanoma, lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. We spot genetic changes that will help you and your doctor make more informed decisions about your treatment. We are the only center in the region and one of a handful across the country to offer this personalized approach for so many patients.
How does this help patients?
Your doctor may be able to choose more effective treatment based on the DNA features of your cancer cells. This saves precious time and avoids unnecessary side effects from treatments that aren't likely to work.
What testing is done for patients with melanoma?
We're testing for many genetic mutations that affect how a cancer will respond to certain treatments. For example, about 40 percent of melanomas have a mutation in a gene called BRAF. A drug that targets one of the common BRAF mutations was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration based on research at Vanderbilt and other cancer centers.
Were running other clinical trials with drugs that target BRAF and other genetic mutations linked with melanoma. Our researchers are also working as part of a Stand Up to Cancer "Dream Team" to further this kind of personalized cancer medicine.
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