Your Health: Personalized cancer treatments

Your Health: Personalized cancer treatments
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 5:29 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - 40,000 people are diagnosed with rare cancers every year.

While 40,000 doesn’t seem like a lot compared to the nearly two million people diagnosed with cancer each year, rare cancers account for 25% of all cancer deaths.

Vivian Panou makes the most of each day for her two girls - Katerina and Aria - all while battling an extremely rare form of thyroid cancer.

She remembered when she discovered something was wrong.

“I touched my throat, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! What is that?’ It felt like a golf ball, and I freaked out,” Panou said.

Surgery, chemo and radiation all helped for a little while, but then she received some bad news from her doctor.

“I said, ‘Doctor, please tell me, where has the cancer gone and how are we gonna get rid of it?’” Panou recalled. “And he just dropped his arms. He’s like, ‘Vivian, where hasn’t it gone? It’s gone everywhere.”

Dr. Young Kwang Chae, who finds targeted therapies for hard-to-treat cases, tried a drug that had never been used before on Panou’s type of cancer.

“We tailor our therapies based on the patient’s genomic profile,” Chae said.

Five days after the first infusion, her cancer had dramatically reduced.

“We were seeing that her pain disappeared within, I would say, days,” Chae said.

Using a highly personalized developmental therapy to hopefully give Panou the extra days, even years, she’s so desperately looking forward to.

“I feel like the treatment I’m getting has been specially crafted just for me because they wanna make sure that I stick around for my girls,” Panou said.

Panou remains on the treatment plan and Chae continues to monitor her progress and look for more ways to keep her cancer controlled.

You will find more hospitals using developmental therapy teams to create personalized treatments for their patients, taking personalized care to a new level.

More: Health stories

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