Doctors use testing to see how one’s body processes medicine to eliminate side effects
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There’s a possible breakthrough for cancer patients, and Baton Rouge doctors are starting to use new testing methods to create individualized treatments.
“It was a hard road,” said Ochsner patient Mary Variste. “There’s still a hard road. I have my moments to take one day at a time. Enjoy life while I can.”
Variste, 67, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told she had six months to live. She was introduced to Ochsner doctor, Jay Brooks, who uses standardized genomic testing for cancer drugs to better treat cancer patients.
“What we’re trying to do here at Ochsner is to try to use genetic analysis, before patients get treated to prevent patients from suffering some of the side effects of chemotherapy,” said Dr. Jay Brooks, Vice Chair of Hematology and Oncology at Ochsner.
Doctors are using pharmacogenomics testing to help guide how patients like Mary metabolize certain drugs. Mary’s chemotherapy was formulated specifically for her based on her testing.
“We’re trying to educate the population about what the advantages are to using genetic analysis to help predict the wealth, it will then develop cancer into use that in specific types of cancers to tailor a precision treatment approach to them,” said Brooks.
The pharmacogenomics information is also added to patients’ electronic health records, so clinicians get warned about potential problems before medication is prescribed. Since last fall, Mary has reduced her chemotherapy treatments from every two weeks to every three weeks.
“I just hope people take care of themself like I’m trying to do and enjoy your family while you can, your grandkids, your great grandkids, sisters, and brothers just enjoy it while you can,” said Mary.
In Jan. 2022, a Louisiana law requiring insurance companies to pay for the testing went into effect. Ochsner made it a required test for cancer patients receiving two types of chemotherapy drugs by July.
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