Genomics Gives New Perspective on Chemotherapy Side Effects

Mar. 18, 2014

Millions of cancer survivors are dealing with painful neuropathy or hearing loss as a result of chemotherapy, but genomics offers scientists a new opportunity to help them, according to a commentary published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute from a group led by Lois B. Travis, M.D.

female cancer patient wearing pink head scarfRoutine gene testing of cancer patients, for example, could expose genetic pathways that make a person susceptible to life-threatening treatment-related complications, the authors wrote.

The importance of future research to aid survivors has never been more urgent. Today 13.7 million people have survived cancer, and that number is growing by 2 percent annually. Many of them were treated with platinum-based drugs, and up to 40 percent will likely experience some neurotoxicity. Long-term studies of younger survivors are especially important because many of these patients are cured but remain at lifelong risk of the late effects of chemotherapy.

To read the full commentary, please click here.