Precision medicine is especially being applied to cancer treatment, and it basically involves tailoring a treatment for a patient — partially based on their DNA.

Health and fitness have always been a big part of David Perry’s life. You’d never guess that this 58-year-old grandfather has been living with a brain tumor for five years.

“The first thought when you hear you have a brain tumor is, ‘Okay, what about the future?'”

So far, Perry has managed to avoid chemo and radiation. That’s because he happens to have a genetic profile that qualifies him for an experimental new drug using precision medicine.

“”I like to think about precision medicine as, really, this idea of tailoring the medication or the treatment to the patient’s tumor,” said Dr. Joe Mendez, a neuro-oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Chemotherapy works by killing all the cells around the cancer — even the non-cancerous ones — which comes with severe side effects. But precision medicine is able to target just the cancer, leaving healthy cells alone.

“It is a unique way of attacking cancer,” Mendez said. “Something that we haven’t done for a long time.”

And the drug is working.

There has been zero growth in Perry’s brain tumor for the year-and-a-half he’s been on the drug. He says the only side effects he’s seeing are those that come with getting older.

“I don’t have to be sick, I can work as much as I want, go to the gym as much as I want,” said Perry. “I can enjoy my wife, my children, my grandchildren and live a normal life full of hope.”

For now, the drug Perry was given in still in the trial phase, and there’s no estimate on when it might receive FDA approval.

But Dr. Mendez says the concept of “precision medicine” will continue to evolve as doctors create better treatment plans for cancer patients.

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