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The Benefits of Targeted Cancer Therapy May Be Overstated

September 19th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Wednesday, September 19, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. Patients with terminal or advanced cancer may sometimes turn to genetic testing or genetic cancer therapies as a last resort. While some of these therapies have been known to produce incredible responses in a few select cases, some believe that the reporting on the benefits may be overstated and may lead some patients to think that these treatments work better than they do or that the benefits outweigh the side effects. According to the New York Times, in most cases, these genetic targeted cancer therapies don’t work for the majority of patients.

Unfortunately, news stories often focus on the miracle cures and don’t always tell the stories of what happens when the cancer study fails to deliver expected results. And sometimes, patients may choose to undergo risky procedures in an effort to try these cutting-edge drugs. Patients may not always be aware of what the risks and benefits are. Even more concerning is that many insurance companies won’t pay for these unproven treatments. Some families might be forking over tens of thousands of dollars and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment that may not be effective.

Targeted therapies, according to the National Cancer Institute, are currently being heavily researched. Targeted therapies use information about a patient’s genetic makeup and then pair the knowledge about the genes with drugs that have been known to work on patients with those genes.

There are several kinds of targeted therapies currently available. These include hormone therapies, gene expression modulators, signal transduction inhibitors, angiogenesis inhibitors, and immunotherapies. Hormone therapies block hormones from “feeding” a tumor. Signal transduction therapies can work to switch off genes that lead to cancer cells dividing. Gene expression modulators can change the way proteins function in cancer cells. Angiogenesis inhibitors block blood vessels from growing to a tumor site, thus starving the tumor of blood and oxygen. Immunotherapies use the immune system’s response to target cancer cells.

While each of these therapies sounds promising, many of these therapies are still new and are being tested. Some cancers can become resistant to certain types of gene therapies. These therapies also come with a set of risk factors and side effects.

So, what can patients do when selecting their treatment options. Talk to your doctor about risk, side effects, and weigh the risks with the possible benefits. It can be hard to know what the benefits are especially if a drug is still in testing. Patients have the right to be properly informed about risks and benefits. If you believe your doctor failed to inform you about risks and benefits of a procedure, and you were injured, consider speaking to the The Bowling Law Firm, medical malpractice lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Always check your medications when filling prescriptions to prevent pharmacy error. The The Bowling Law Firm are pharmacy error lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana, who have seen firsthand how simple pharmacy errors have led to serious injury for some patients.

The Bowling Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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