A computer program may soon be able to personalise cancer treatments, improving outcomes for many sufferers.
In work funded by the Cancer Council in SA, University of South Australia researcher Stephanie Reuter Lange says the program may be able to help perfect dose individualisation.
“Cancer medicines must be administered at a dose that is strong enough to treat cancer, but not too strong to cause toxic side effects,” Associate Professor Reuter Lange said.
“While this is well known, most cancer treatments are given as a one-size-fits-all amount.
“Given that everyone is unique, it makes sense that patients will react differently when given the same treatment, resulting in some patients being under-treated and others being over-treated.”
An under-treated patient won’t receive the right amount of medicine to treat their cancer, which could result in the treatment not working.
An over-treated patient can receive too much medicine, which has the potential to make them sick.
“We want to find a way to ensure that we strike the right balance every time and give patients the best chance of survival,” Prof Reuter Lange said.
The computer program, which is still being developed, takes what is known about cancer medicine and integrates it with information on how and why people differ, to identify the optimal dose for each patient.
Prof Reuter Lange said it put technology at the bedside to help doctors make dosing decisions that maximised the chance of treatment success.
“Approximately half of the patients receiving chemotherapy have an unplanned visit to the emergency department within one month of receiving treatment, and one in eight of these cases is related to drug therapy,” she said.
“However, studies show that up to 50 per cent are actually preventable.
“Through our research, we hope to make that statistic a reality.”
Original content from AAP. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.