Personalized and genomic medicine is revolutionizing cancer treatments. While treatments based on specific genetic factors are relatively new, they’re already changing how we approach cancer care and prevention. And there’s every indication they’ll continue to shape the future of oncology. It’ll probably take a few years for personalized medicine to become the norm. However, it’s a good bet that’s what we’ll see in the not-too-distant future. Before that happens, here are five things you should know about personalized medicine in onocology.
1) Genomics Take Personalized Medicine To The Next Level
Even without genetic testing, many doctors take the patient’s individual needs into account when prescribing treatment. To a certain extent, we’re already doing personalized medicine. The science of genetics takes it a step further, though, giving you the information you need to understand and target specific cancers in specific people.
2) Targeted Treatment Isn’t Available For All Cancers Yet
We’re still in the early stages of developing genetically personalized cancer treatments. For certain cancers, we’re able to target a cancer’s specific genes and proteins. Researchers find new targets each year and we’re now able to specifically target breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, and several others. Still, targeted treatment isn’t yet available for all cancers and in some cases it’s still in the clinical trials phase.
3) You’ll See Why Drugs Work Differently On Different People
For many cancer treatments, there’s a process of trial and error involved. You have to try different treatments to see what works and adjust medication dosages after seeing how individual patients respond. But genetics testing can give oncologists a clearer picture of how someone will respond to a specific drug before they administer it. This field of personalized medicine is called pharmacogenomics.
4) There Are Preventative Applications As Well
Continuing research on personalized cancer treatment lets us pinpoint genetic markers and mutations tied to specific cancers. That enables targeted treatments and it also opens the door for targeted prevention. We’re getting to the point where genetic testing can help doctors identify patients that are at a higher risk for certain cancers. It also helps doctors identify cancer patients who are at risk of developing another type of cancer. With this information, doctors can guide patients as they navigate their preventative care options.
5) We’re Still Not Exactly Sure How This Will Change Health Care
Personalized medicine will revolutionize health care. We’re just not sure exactly how much yet. There’s a good chance that personalized and genomic medicine will become the norm in the not-too-distant future. Before that happens, we have a long way to go in terms of developing new regulations, educating patients, creating flexible payment systems, and building electronic databases of genetic information. The changes are already happening, though, and if you’re currently working in oncology you can be pretty certain that you’ll be working with personalized medicine more and more frequently in the future.