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Update on Personalized Medicine

Posted 4/27/2015

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  Personalized medicine is a phrase that is increasingly used to refer to ongoing attempts to better understand an individual's particular tumor and situation. As we know more about cancer, we understand that there are many kinds of lung or colon or breast cancer, and that the best treatment is likely related to the molecular and genetic make up of the tumor, not just the site of origin.

  There are several obvious very big upsides to this approach: the hope of better results and the certainty of few side effects than traditional chemotherapy. The very big downside is that hopes and expectations are running ahead of the clinical realities. This s frequently a problem with any reports about cancer treatments; the headlines look as though an absolute cure is on the near horizon, and the small print tells us that there have been impressive results with mice.

  This is a good article and explanation about personalized cancer treatment from the American Cancer Society. Here is the start and then a link to read more:

Personalized Medicine: Redefining Cancer and Its Treatment
By Elizabeth Mendes

The type of cancer a person has – and how it gets treated – is no longer just about where in the body
the cancer started, such as in the breast or lungs or the colon. More so now than ever, when doctors
decide how to attack a cancer, they are arming themselves with a wealth of knowledge about the
specific molecular and genetic makeup of their patient’s tumor.
Many researchers and cancer centers are already embracing this personalized approach to cancer
care. Though still in early stages, this field of work is moving and improving at a rapid pace, and just
got a boost from President Barack Obama, with his announcement of a $215 million investment to
launch the Precision Medicine Initiative. The initiative aims to speed up progress toward personalized
medicine for all.


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