This health video focuses on how blood tests can improve Cancer therapy.
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Jennifer Matthews: Rebecca Kearny searches for pecans in her yard, something two years ago she never thought she would do again. Rebecca Kearny: They didn't expect me to ever get out of the hospital. Jennifer Matthews: Cancer took over Rebecca's body. Her liver was failing. Fluid and tumors filled her chest. Rebecca Kearny: I was up to 235 pounds if you can imagine. I looked like the Good Year blimp. Jennifer Matthews: That's when doctors gave her an experimental blood test like this and discovered her body was rapidly making too many copies of a gene called HER-2. Dr. Jonathan Uhr: The cells are very aggressive, and the patient has a poor prognosis. Jennifer Matthews: Doctors immediately treated Rebecca with the antibody Herceptin, which blocks tumor cell growth. Dr. Jonathan Uhr: This shows that the tumor burden disappeared and this graph shows that the tumor cells in the blood rapidly disappeared. Within 96 hours, they were down to 3 or 4% of where they were initially. Jennifer Matthews: UT Southwestern Doctor Jonathan Uhr calls this blood test a non-invasive biopsy that could lead to more effective treatment for many types of cancer. Dr. Jonathan Uhr: Targeted therapy is the wave of the future because of its lack of side effects and because it is new drugs in addition to chemotherapy that may make it possible to give less chemotherapy, perhaps none at all at some point. Jennifer Matthews: And that could be lifesaving news for patients like Rebecca. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.