Doctors were just guessing a decade ago when they gave Alison Cairnes’ husband a new drug they hoped would shrink his lung tumors. Now she takes it, but the choice was no guesswork. Sophisticated gene tests suggested it would fight her gastric cancer, and they were right.
Cancer patients increasingly are having their care guided by gene tumor boards, a new version of the hospital panels that traditionally decided whether surgery, radiation or chemotherapy would be best. These experts study the patient’s cancer genes and match treatments to mutations that seem to drive the disease.
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