Just 10 years ago, most cancer treatments worked by killing fast-replicating cancer cells with the hopes that healthy cells would survive. “Today, rather than differentiating treatments based on rapid cell growth, we look at mutation patterns and target the specific mutations that turned the cells into cancer,” says Steven Paulson, M.D., medical oncologist and president and chairman of the board at Texas Oncology. “This results in much less damage to the normal ‘good guy’ cells around it. Innovative treatments, such as immunotherapy and precision medicine, are significant advances that have improved the longevity of those with cancer, as well as their quality of life.”
Precision medicine uses information about genetic changes in the tumor to inform which treatment will work best for an individual. Mutations that turned healthy cells into cancerous cells in the first place are targeted, resulting in treatments that only destroy the bad cells without harm to the good ones.
Immunotherapy is an innovative, advanced form of targeted cancer therapy that boosts a patient’s own immune system and defense mechanisms to fight cancer at the cellular level. Unlike traditional cancer treatments that target the cells in tumors, immunotherapy drugs boost the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells to stop or slow their growth or limit the cancer’s ability to spread.
Dr. Paulson predicts that therapies like this will only continue to improve. And Texas—specifically Dallas—will be a major player in these advances in cancer care. “Texas, as a whole, has excellent cancer care, and when you look at Dallas’ overall survival rates, they are much better than the national average,” Dr. Paulson says.
Through its robust cancer research program, Texas Oncology is addressing scientific challenges to identify better ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent cancer-related diseases. Texas Oncology has helped develop more than 100 FDA-approved cancer therapies through research and clinical trials.
Texas Oncology participates in national clinical trials, and its research has played a pivotal role in developing more than 100 of the latest FDA-approved cancer drugs.