Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Doctor calls for targeted approach to cancer treatment

Published:Saturday | July 9, 2016 | 7:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

San Jose, Costa Rica:

Dr Daniel Ciriano, regional medical doctor for Latin America, has suggested that if countries are to see improved results in cancer care, there must be a targeted approach to treatment.

Speaking with The Gleaner following the first of a two-day Roche press conference, which was held at the Marriot Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Wednesday, the medical practitioner said that the concept of focusing primarily on chemotherapy has not produced the best outcomes over the years.

"It makes no sense you give chemotherapy to 100 patients when only 20 will respond. If you will treat 100 patients only to have results on 20, it's not only that you are exposing 80 patients to a treatment that will produce no results, but also expending a lot of money to people that won't respond," he told The Gleaner.

 

VARYING FORMS OF CANCER

 

"The key knowledge that we have today is that we cannot consider cancer as a single condition. There are more than 200 different conditions," he said, noting that there can be different types of cancers in a single organ.

Roche is the world's largest biotechnology company with differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and neuroscience.

He said that practitioners should be proactive in practicing the varieties of therapy and treatment that are available to treat specific cancers.

"We cannot approach all the cancers in the same way - the classical chemotherapy-oriented way. We are now in a position of being able to address the different types of cancers in a more targeted and personalised way."

Ciriano pointed out that "women are living much longer, and that's the personalised-medicine concept we are talking about, to be able to detect subgroups of patients that will be able to respond to a targeted group of therapy and have better outcomes".

A recent document prepared by the Planning Institute of Jamaica said preliminary data from the health ministry show that the unconditional probability of persons dying from cancer between the ages of 30-64 moved from seven per cent in 2010 to 14.5 per cent in 2013.