With the newest treatments available, Texas Oncology is paving the path in cancer research right here in Paris.
“We are currently treating about 500 patients from Lamar County and the surrounding areas. Cancer is a common disease that affects a lot of people,” said Dr. Sucharu Prakash, who will be receiving an award later this month from U.S. Oncology for his involvement in cancer research.
Through its affiliation with U.S. Oncology Research, Texas Oncology has helped push more than 50 cancer therapies through the FDA and offers numerous clinical trials to their patients.
In fighting breast cancer, several methods come into play, Prakash said. This includes everything from traditional and new techniques, to research and trials.
One of the newer treatments now offered at Texas Oncology are target therapies, Prakash said. These therapies, usually taken orally or intravenously, can target specific pathways which may be turned on due to mutations and malignancies. This, in turn, allows the cancer to be treated with less damage to normal cells.
The newest one is called Palbociclib, he said, which blocks specific proteins in the cells. This causes the cancer cells to slow or stop making new cells, which then slows the growth of the cancer.
“This has been huge for us,” Prakash said. “It almost doubles the time the cancer is able to be controlled.”
Other newer target therapies include Afinitor, Herceptin, Perjeta and Tykerb, which all work similar to Palbociclib.
Prakash said another new breakthrough in cancer treatment is a test called Oncotype DX.
“With this test, we can now predict the recurrence of cancer by analyzing the genes in a tumor,” Prakash said. “If we find a low chance of a recurrence in the patient, then we are able to spare any unnecessary treatments which may be more toxic.”
Another cancer treatment on the horizon at Texas Oncology involves the use of immunostimulants.
These help boost the immune system, which increases the body’s ability to fight the cancer. Prakash said he hopes to be able to offer immunotherapy in the next few months.
The odds of survival increase each year as researchers continue to learn more about breast cancer. Prakash said he believes preventative measures, such as routine screenings, are important in helping to fight the cancer early.
“The earlier we can catch it, the easier it can be to treat,” Prakash said. “We’ve come a long way, but there is still much more to do.”
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