Precision medicine is an approach to patient care that allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on agenetic understanding of their disease. This may also be called personalized medicine. The idea of precision medicine is not new, but recent advances in science and technology have helped speed up the pace of this area of research.
Today, when you are diagnosed with cancer, you usually receive the same treatment as others who have same type and stage of cancer. Even so, different people may respond differently, and, until recently, doctors didn’t know why. After decades of research, scientists now understand that patients’ tumors have genetic changes that cause cancer to grow and spread. They have also learned that the changes that occur in one person’s cancer may not occur in others who have the same type of cancer. And, the same cancer-causing changes may be found in different types of cancer.
Once genetic changes are discovered, another active area of research involves looking for drugs that can target these changes, then testing these drugs with people in clinical trials. Clinical trials are going on across the United States. To find out if there are open trials for which you may be eligible, use the search tool at Find a Clinical Trial. Or, contact the Cancer Information Service for help.
Researchers are also working to understand and solve the problem of drug resistance that can limit how well targeted therapies work. Many researchers believe that precision medicine is the key to unlocking these secrets.