Well, this situation is not unheard of for patients who suffer from a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP). Although it is not rare for intermittent and sporadic warty growths called papillomas to occur in the mouth and throat due to the HPV virus, RRP is a much more severe condition where such papillomas start appearing at birth and appears like popcorn over time. It is not a question of "IF", but of "WHEN" such growths will reappear after removal.
Surgical removal is performed as they appear and start causing problems (trouble breathing, hoarseness, etc).
But, for a patient who has undergone 350 surgeries for removal, something new and innovative had to be done.
For researchers at Georgetown, they managed to "grow" the papillomas in a petri dish and test a variety of chemotherapeutic agents on it to see what works the best... BEFORE giving it to the patient.
This scenario is analogous to doing a culture and sensitivity on an infection to figure out what antibiotic will work the best.
Though this technique was performed on papillomas, the same approach can potentially work on any cancerous growths.
Imagine having an aggressive form of lung cancer and rather than undergoing numerous trials of chemotherapy that may or may not work, a small sample of the cancer is instead grown in a petri dish where all the different types of chemotherapy drugs are tested on it. Treatment would utilize the drugs that worked best in the petri dish which theoretically would work best in the patient.
"What could be more personalized than taking this person's cell, growing it in culture, finding a drug to treat them and then treat them?" said Doug Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. [link]
Bizarre tumor case may lead to custom cancer care. USA Today 9/26/12
Use of Reprogrammed Cells to Identify Therapy for Respiratory Papillomatosis. New England Journal of Medicine. 9/27/12