We all want what’s best for our patients. The most reliable treatment, the highest quality care, and their best chance to get healthy. That’s not always easy to deliver and at times it might even seem impossible to hit all those goals. But advances in personalized medicine are putting our goals for improved patient care closer than ever.
Personalized medicine, also called genomics, aims to target specific varies of cancer directly in the way that’s best for each individual patient. Genetics testing gives physicians more information about the types of cancer as well as how a patient might respond to different treatments. Genomics isn’t just the cool new way to do medicine. It’s one of the best futuristic tools you have to improve patient care.
Targeted Treatment From The Beginning
We know different cancers respond to medications differently and that results can vary between patients as well. In the past, a large part of finding the right treatment involved trial and error. You’d try the medication that works most often and if it didn’t work in this case then you’d try the next one. Now advances in genetics are now letting us start personalizing even before treatment begins.
Precision Cancer Treatments
The more we study different types of cancer the better we understand them. Genetics testing is helping us target treatments for the different cancers. It’s not yet available for all cancer types, but for some we can target a cancer’s specific genes and proteins. We’re now able to specifically target breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, and several others. And that’s good for patients because the more precise treatment becomes, the more effective it will be at fighting their cancer.
Personalized For The Individual
Genomics doesn’t just involve testing the genetic makeup for different types of cancers. We’re also using human genetic testing to tailor treatments to individual patients. Genetic testing can help predict how a patient will respond to different treatments before we start them and minimize dangerous side effects. It also helps with getting the dosage right the first time. Eventually, it looks like personalized medicine could involve custom treatments for each individual. That’s still quite a ways off in the future, though.
Fewer Side Effects
All this personalized medicine boils down to two key improvements for patients: better treatments and fewer side effects. In the words of William Phelps, Ph.D. (director of preclinical and translational cancer research at the American Cancer Society), “The overall toxicity to patients should be reduced because you are more likely to use the best collection of drugs the first time around.” And that means the more you can use personalized care, the better it is for your patients.