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What is Precision Medicine?
Precision medicine, sometimes called personalized medicine, is an approach to cancer treatment based on the genetic profile of a patient or their specific disease. Most notably, cancer cells from a tissue biopsy or a blood specimen are evaluated for abnormalities (also known as mutations) that cause cancer and can serve as targets to treat cancer to achieve the best outcome for a patient. Molecular testing can also be used to help make a more accurate diagnosis in complex cases or help patients learn if there is a risk of cancer that runs in their families.
Once an actionable mutation is identified, a treatment can be designed to target the cancer. This targeted therapy attacks only the cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells so side effects are typically much less than seen with standard chemotherapy.
Precision medicine can used to:
- Identify those at high-risk for cancer
- Find cancers at an early stage
- Make a more accurate diagnose
- Determine best treatment options
- Evaluate how treatment is working
How is Precision Testing Performed?
There are multiple ways to perform biomarker or gene testing. Testing can be done on tissue removed during a biopsy or through a liquid biopsy through saliva, blood, or bodily fluids. Be sure to let your doctor know you’d like to receive genetic testing so they can determine the best approach and the right test.
Types of Cancer that Use Precision Medicine
While precision medicine is not used for every type of cancer, research is ongoing. Currently, some of the most common cancers where precision medicine is used to help with treatment decisions include:
- Colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Misconceptions about Precision Medicine
- Molecular testing is too expensive
- Access to Precision Medicine is too limited
Currently there are only a few dozen FDA-approved treatment options for all mutation-driven diseases, but advancements are rapidly occurring. Many clinical trials are done with patients who have specific types and stages of cancer, and now with specific biomarkers as a condition, as well.
Expanded insurance coverage and financial assistance programs from testing laboratories have put next-generation sequencing within reach for most patients. Generally, patients will not pay more than a few hundred dollars out of pocket, in addition to pathology charges.
Why Choose Us
Our physicians and staff have extensive experience treating cancer. Your physician will collaborate with a team of surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, and referring physicians. Our physicians also have access to clinical trials, which can sometimes offer the best treatment approach for your diagnosis.
As an independent oncology practice, we’re proud to be part of The US Oncology Network, collaborating with more than 1400 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care to patients — close to home. Through The Network, we come together with other independent doctors to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes.