Precision medicine is an approach to treating cancer that is customized to you.
Sometimes precision medicine is called personalized medicine. Precision medicine is not just about treating existing disease. It includes:
- Cancer screening and prevention tips based on your cancer risks
- Treatment with the most successful therapies that result in the least side effects
- Predicting whether your cancer will return and having a plan if it does
To develop individually-tailored treatment plans, doctors must understand many aspects of a patient’s health, including:
- Genetic makeup
- Environmental factors
- Lifestyle choices
Genes, genetics and DNA are important to precision medicine. Cancer is the result of a genetic malfunction that causes cells to develop out of control, creating tumors. Understanding a person’s complete set of DNA (also called the genome) is a major part of precision medicine. The more researchers know about genetic sequencing and DNA analysis of cancer tumors, the more treatment options may be available if a person’s cancer stops responding to standard treatment.
The future of precision medicine goes beyond today’s standard treatment protocols that treat a cancer based on its origin (ex: prostate, breast). Instead, doctors want to understand how cancer cells behave so they can target specific genes or proteins that lead to cancer growth or survival.
Cancer.net* has an interesting summary of precision medicine research from 2015.
News related to precision medicine at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
Research related to precision medicine at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
Your Genes and Future Cancer Treatment (MI-ONCOSEQ, a Cancer Center Study)
*Cancer.net is the patient web site from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.