HealthBuddy Check 6


‘Revolutionary’ breast cancer treatment saves Richmond grandmother

Posted at 1:34 AM, Jul 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-08 21:36:21-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Doctors are now using tailor-made treatments to fight cancer in Central Virginia.

Instead of a one-size fits all approach, doctors can now design a treatment plan that is just right for you.

CBS 6 anchor Stephanie Rochon talked to a local breast cancer survivor who is among a growing number of patients benefiting from the new approach her doctors call revolutionary.

Julie Bowman is radiant as she talks about her many blessings.

“I just had my first grandchild,” said Bowman. “She was welcomed into the world at 12:04 p.m.”

She’s also thrilled her daughter is getting married.

A year ago, Bowman was counting another blessing: she would live to see these moments after successfully completing breast cancer treatment.

Bowman is among a growing number of patients benefiting from a new approach to cancer care that her doctors call revolutionary. It's called “precision medicine.”

"The whole purpose of precision medicine is to avoid over-treatment and avoid under-treatment,” said Dr. Jim Pellicane.

A breast surgeon for Bon Secours, Dr. Pellicane says treating cancer is becoming more personalized.

In Bowman's case, it appeared she might need chemotherapy, but genetic testing of her tumor found her type of breast cancer wouldn't respond to it. She only needed a lumpectomy and radiation.

“I'll never forget that when I walked in the room, he said ‘Ms. Bowman, you don't need chemo,’ " said Bowman.

Dr. William Irvin, a hematologist and oncologist for Bon Secours, says precision medicine reduces both the physical and financial costs of cancer care by giving patients exactly what they need to live.
“The right drug, at the right time, at the right place, for the right person, at the right dose."  said Dr. Irvin.

Dr. Irvin says we are in the early stage of precision medicine and are just beginning to see the benefits of these new tools.

“There are going to be more discoveries along those lines in the next several years that will allow us to tailor this therapy even more precisely,” said Dr. Irvin.

Dr. Irvin and Dr. Pellicane say this approach is not for everyone. It’s based on a patient’s tumor size, type of breast cancer, the number of lymph nodes involved, and whether it’s hormone-receptor positive.

Cancer free and counting her blessings, Bowman is looking forward to spending lots of time with her granddaughter and watching her grow.

“I’m doing great,” said Bowman. “I feel good and I feel so blessed.”