Data from the National Cancer Institute have found that there were 139,206 new cancer patients in 2021 and 84,073 ones of which died. The top five cancer types that are the most prevalent among Thai people are liver and bile duct cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and colon and rectal cancer as well as cervical cancer. Cancer treatment has been vastly developed in the present days in terms of both screening technologies and chemotherapy that are designed to reduce the chance of side effects and personalized treatment plan for each patient.

Dr. Vigrom Jennetisin, a medical oncologist at Vejthani Hospital, said the most important factor about cancer treatment is finding the cause of the cancer in each patient. The cause can be found by conducting screening test on cancerous cells to determine what mechanism has caused the cells to become cancerous and investigate what is the best medication to inhibit the cancer growth on each patient. The treatment could therefore be more precise and effective. This kind of treatment approach is called Precision Cancer Medicine. This is because a variety of mechanisms can result in a growth of cancer in the same organ.

Dr. Vigrom added that Precision Cancer Medicine is a process of diagnosing and analyzing cancerous cells which result in detailed information than just the cancer’s type, stage and appearance. This kind of medicine explores the cells deep into their DNA. This is done by performing a blood test or biopsy on a patient and sending the collected blood or tissue for analysis in the laboratory with the centralized Big Data. This helps address how the disease is caused, which is different from person to person. This enables the doctor to choose the most suitable medicine for each patient and reduces and avoids the use of drugs that may be unnecessary or have side effects from an initial stage.

“This Precision Cancer Medicine treatment requires an analysis of the DNA in the cancerous cells obtained from the patient with a genome sequencing machine. The purpose is to thoroughly look for any abnormalities including gene mutations, before doing a comparative data analysis with the Big Data. This will allow us to know what kind of abnormalities in the cancerous cells the patient has and which treatment method would be the most effective that shows the best result. We must also take the patient’s chronic disease, their concerns and limitations into account. For instance, some patients may be afraid of hair loss, we therefore will be considering an effective treatment that response to the needs of this patient. This makes Precision Cancer Medicine to be truly an individualized treatment.”

Dr. Vigrom further added that when doctor knows the main cause of the cancer through Precision Cancer Medicine, it makes the treatment plan to be more individualized and effective. The treatment methods include:

  1. Targeted Therapy. An analysis of the mechanism that causes the growth of cancer in each patient allows us to know which gene mutation stimulates normal cells to become cancerous. This enables doctors to precisely choose the targeted drugs to attack that particular mechanism that is causing the disease, resulting in precise cancer treatment with least to no impacts on the normal cells, as the given drugs only react on a specific area and target cancerous cells that have abnormal genomic profiles. This makes the treatment to be highly effective and potentially reduces the side effects.
  2. Immunotherapy: An important mechanism that triggers the growth or spreading of cancerous cells is the avoidance of detection by the immune cells and inhibition of the function of immune cells. This causes the immune cells to unable to destroy the cancerous cells. Immunotherapy is like turning on the switch of the immune system to eliminate cancerous cells in a more effective way. Precision cancer medicine determines which patients are suitable for immunotherapy as it detects indicators in cancerous cells and immune cells to forecast their response and helps choosing the best immunotherapy drugs for each patient, making immunotherapy an effective treatment and powerful treatment.
  3. Hormonal Therapy is the use of drugs to inhibit the function or production of sex hormones. This can inhibit the growth of cancer cells which is stimulated by sex hormones. This is a type of precision cancer medicine that has been used for a long period of time as it is precise use of drugs that matches the cause of cancer. Now this treatment has been widely used to treat prostate cancer in males and breast cancer in females.
  4. Chemotherapy in precision cancer medicine is given by doctor choosing the drug that is the most suitable for cancer in each patient by relying on the data Cancer Genomic Profiles and conducts a test with cancer avatar to assess how cancer responds to each type of chemotherapy in the laboratory before using the drug in a patient. The important principle of using chemotherapy is determining the type of chemotherapy that will be beneficial to patients only. If chemotherapy does not raise the effectiveness of the treatment in a patient, he/she does not need to receive chemotherapy. This will help reduce the chance of unnecessary side effects without lowering the effectiveness of the treatment.
  5. Cell therapy: In the present days, we are able strengthen a patient’s cells in the immune system that play a role in eliminating cancer cells. The treatment can be modified based on the cancer type and the patient’s health conditions, such as the lack of healthy cells or low quality of the cells. Cell therapy varies from person to person depending on these factors. The immune cells that are strengthened must also be chosen based on their specificity to the type and stage of cancer in each patient.
  6. Cancer Vaccine is an innovative approach in treating cancer cells that already exist. The vaccine is specifically made for each cancer patient as its components are extracted from the cancer cells of each patient, allowing the immune cells to destroy the cancer cells more effectively. Cancer Vaccine helps delay or inhibits the growth of cancer cells, reduces the size of the cancer, prevents the cancer from recurring or eliminating cancer cells that have not been killed by other treatments, such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

Precision Cancer Medicine is a new alternative for cancer patients that treats cancer at its core and gives a personalized treatment result, as well as reduces the chance of side effects.

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