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DES MOINES, Iowa –Doctors say precision medicine could be the next big thing in treating cancer. The National Cancer Institute is testing a targeted way of tackling cancer, and patients in Central Iowa can participate without traveling far from home.

A handful of patients with John Stoddard Cancer Center is voluntarily participating in a national clinical trial called MATCH, which stands for molecular analysis for therapy choice.

It’s for patients who have tried standard therapies, and maybe don’t have any options left.

John Stoddard Cancer Center Medical Oncologist Dr. Bob Behrens said, “The trial is designed to look for new options that testing new drugs, especially when other drugs have quit working.”

Dr. Behrens said patients participating in the MATCH trial must have a biopsy. The tissue is sent to the National Cancer Institute where researchers look for 24 different molecular changes. Then, patients are matched with a drug that is supposed to block that exact change.

Doctors say this type of precision medicine could be the future of treating cancer.

“The National Cancer Institute is very interested in this. There are also private companies that are trying the same thing. But, this is a program that uses your federal tax dollars to try to do it in a scientific way to prove that it’s really a good idea, but it’s going to take years for this research to be finalized,” said Dr. Behrens.

The trial recently expanded to include 5,000 patients to be screened across the country. Patients must be healthy enough, have good enough organ function to tolerate the drugs, and be will willing to have the biopsy.

People with cancer that has returned or gotten worse after a standard treatment, should ask their doctor about this study. You can find more information on the Iowa Oncology Research Association’s website.