January 12, 2017 – Escaping Treatment
Anchor lead: Some tumors evade the best defenses, Elizabeth Tracey reports
Even as cancer treatments are becoming more targeted and specific, some tumors are demonstrating their ability to evade them, a recent case report in the New England Journal of Medicine illustrates. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says this isn’t a new observation.
Nelson: It appears there are significant differences at different metastatic sites. Usually there is similarity of the driver kinds of alterations that are pushing the cancer and there are a lot of little differences so the genes of cancer cells are innately unstable. They’re constantly dealing new genetic alterations, and the worry is that that propensity to generate new variants of cancer cells may mean that there’s almost always one that can be generated that can outfox some kind of treatment, that’s the real worry. :32
Nelson says strategies to manage a variety of mutations are under investigation. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.