Durham VA to receive new blood test that can improve treatment for cancer patients

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ByAna Rivera via WTVD logo
Friday, March 15, 2019
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Durham VA gets additional tool to help treat veterans

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A simple blood test in Durham could make life easier for veterans with cancer.

"I don't know if I can put that in words...I'm totally grateful," said Patrick McGuire, cancer survivor and veteran.

McGuire served in the Navy for four years. Then in 2015, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

"I went on through many radiation treatments and surgeries and then chemotherapy. I lost probably 100 pounds," McGuire said.

Then doctors at the VA were able to give McGuire a blood test that looked at his genetics to determine what would be the best type of treatment for him. The test helped doctors decide how to best target and treat his cancer with the fewest side effects.

"We're just as different on the inside as we are on the outside on how we respond to different medication," said Dr. Deepak Voora, Durham VA hospital.

The VA in Durham has now partnered with Sanford Health out of the Midwest to provide this blood test for other veterans battling cancer. The test will be administered on 1,000 veterans in Durham.

"They've already been through so much, so to be able to ease their suffering sooner and better only makes sense," said Dr. Allison Suttle, Sanford Health.

McGuire says the VA switched his treatment and it saved his life.

"It's important to my improvement and it's also important for other veterans and that's why I'm honored to do this," McGuire said.

By 2020, they plan to give 250,000 veterans this blood test.