Top Stories of 2017: #4 FDA Approves First Cancer-Agnostic Precision Medicine Treatment

#4: FDA Approves First Cancer-Agnostic Precision Medicine Treatment

The way we are thinking about cancer is changing. Whereas researchers used to think of cancer as an organ-site specific disease (prostate, lung, breast, colon, etc.) and prescribing cookie-cutter treatments for each, doctors are now starting to discover certain genetic defects that span all types of cancer. This new way of thinking is the hallmark of the precision medicine revolution.

On May 23, 2017, the field of precision medicine achieved a major milestone with the FDA’s first ever approval of a cancer therapy based entirely on a tumor’s unique characteristics and not where the tumor developed in the body. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) immunotherapy was approved for patients with solid tumors that either cannot be surgically removed or are metastatic, who have progressed on prior treatment or have no other satisfactory treatment options available, and have certain genetic defects that cause tumors to be susceptible to this class of Immunotherapy.  This important approval defines a subset of prostate cancer patients that may benefit from treatment with pembrolizumab.

Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF)-funded investigators have found that approximately 5% of advanced prostate cancer patients have these genetic defects –mutated MMR genes or the large-scale genomic defects called microsatellite instability (MSI) caused by MMR mutations – and may therefore benefit from treatment with pembrolizumab. To find out if you might be eligible for this treatment, talk to your doctor about having your tumor sequenced.

For more detail on this new therapy:


Read all 5 of the Top Stories of 2017


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