Precision Oncology

precision oncology

Precision oncology, defined as molecular profiling of tumor cells to identify targetable differences, is swiftly developing and has entered the mainstream of clinical practice. Genomic testing involves multitudinous stakeholders working in a coordinated way to deliver high-quality results that involves good quality tissue samples processed at high-quality laboratories, where Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) molecular analysis is carried out resulting in the accurate genomic report.

Interpretation of these genomic results is complex and requires multidisciplinary input to generate clinical recommendations. Non–small cell lung cancer has surfaced as an example where genomic data identifies differences allowing the use of approved targeted agents yielding better outcomes.

Further, during the course of treatment, many patients develop resistance to these targeted agents. Sequential genomic testing gives answer to these challenging situations where technologies like liquid biopsy comes very handy. The value of molecular profiling guide us in avoiding both underutilization for well-proven variant-target drug combination and overutilization of variant-drug remedy without proven benefit.

As ways evolve and come more cost-effective, the use of molecular testing may prove to add further particularity and meliorate issues for a larger number of cases.

Why is it important ?

  • The days of one-size-fits-all treatment approach are being replaced by substantiated and contemporary treatments interventions. Precision oncology describes a different set of strategies in cancer medicine adapted to the unique biology of a patient’s tumor. Strategies range from the use of targeted treatment or Immunotherapy or their combinations based on the data available in the literature. Precision oncology holds the pledge of bettered effectiveness, better care, and the reduction of ineffective treatments and costs.
  • The premise of precision oncology is to develop treatments that target the molecular characteristics of an existent’s tumor. The emergence of this kind of targeted treatment is a provocative moment in the battle against cancer. But for the precision -oncology dream to be fully realized, the treatment must help farther people with cancer than the 5 – 10 who presently profit.
  • The enduring treatments of radiotherapy and chemotherapy will remain the standard cancer care for multitudinous times — they, too, are perfecting all the time. For some people with cancer, precision oncology offers a compelling advantage over conventional remedies.
Frequently Asked Questions

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Precision oncology, also known as personalized or individualized oncology, is an approach to cancer treatment that tailors medical decisions and interventions to the unique characteristics of each patient and their specific cancer. It is based on the understanding that cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease, and different patients may respond differently to the same treatments. Precision oncology aims to identify the most effective therapies for each patient while minimizing the risk of side effects and unnecessary treatments. Traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, are effective to some extent, but they can also harm healthy cells and cause significant side effects. In contrast, precision oncology takes advantage of advances in genomics, molecular biology, and technology to better understand the unique features of each patient’s cancer.
  1. Genomic Profiling: Precision oncology relies on extensive genomic analysis of a patient’s tumor to identify specific genetic mutations, alterations, and biomarkers that drive cancer growth. This information helps oncologists understand the unique genetic makeup of the tumor and determine targeted therapies that can exploit these vulnerabilities.
  2. Targeted Therapies: Once specific genetic alterations are identified, targeted therapies can be used to interfere with the cancer’s growth and survival pathways more precisely. These therapies are designed to specifically target the abnormal proteins or pathways that are essential for cancer growth while sparing healthy cells and reducing side effects.
  3. Immunotherapy: Precision oncology also includes the use of immunotherapies, which harness the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Certain immunotherapies, like immune checkpoint inhibitors, have shown remarkable success in treating various types of cancer.
  4. Combination Therapies: In some cases, a combination of targeted therapies and immunotherapies may be used to enhance the treatment response and overcome potential resistance mechanisms, to create a more comprehensive approach that addresses multiple aspects of cancer growth and evasion.
  5. Clinical Trials: Precision oncology often involves participation in clinical trials, where patients can access experimental treatments or new combinations of therapies that are not yet widely available.
  6. Liquid Biopsies: In addition to traditional tissue biopsies, liquid biopsies have gained importance in precision oncology. Liquid biopsies involve the analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) or other biomarkers in the blood, allowing for non-invasive monitoring of tumor dynamics and treatment response over time.
  7. Monitoring treatment effectiveness: Precision oncology also involves regular monitoring of a patient’s tumor through molecular profiling. This allows clinicians to track changes in the tumor’s genetic makeup and make necessary adjustments to treatment if the cancer evolves or becomes resistant to the current therapy.
  8. Data and Artificial Intelligence: Precision oncology generates vast amounts of data from genomic analyses and clinical information. Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a crucial role in analyzing these data to identify patterns, predict treatment responses, and improve patient outcomes.
Traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, are often based on the type and location of the cancer. They target rapidly dividing cells, which include both cancerous and healthy cells, leading to significant side effects. Precision oncology, on the other hand, considers the genetic mutations and specific characteristics of the tumor to identify targeted therapies that attack cancer cells with more precision, sparing healthy cells and reducing side effects.

Precision Oncology utilizes various techniques, including:

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS): This technique analyzes a patient’s DNA to identify genetic mutations and alterations that drive cancer growth.

Companion Diagnostics: These are specific tests that help identify patients who are likely to respond to a particular targeted therapy.

Liquid Biopsies: These non-invasive tests analyze circulating tumor DNA in the blood to monitor treatment response and detect cancer-related genetic changes.

Imaging: Advanced imaging technologies help in visualizing tumors and assessing their response to treatment.

Patient data, including genetic information, medical history, and tumor characteristics, are collected and analyzed to understand the underlying drivers of cancer growth. This information helps oncologists make informed decisions about the most appropriate targeted therapies for individual patients.
Precision Oncology has shown promising results in certain types of cancer with well-defined genetic drivers. For example, cancers like chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with specific mutations have benefited from targeted therapies. However, the effectiveness of precision oncology may vary depending on the availability of targeted drugs and the understanding of the molecular drivers of each cancer type.

Precision Oncology offers several benefits, including:

Improved Treatment Outcomes: By targeting the specific genetic alterations driving cancer growth, precision therapies may lead to better treatment responses.

Reduced Side Effects: Unlike traditional therapies, precision oncology focuses on cancer cells, minimizing damage to healthy tissues and reducing side effects.

Personalized Approach: Each patient receives a tailored treatment plan based on their unique cancer profile.

Better Prognosis: Early identification of targetable mutations may lead to more favorable prognoses.

While Precision Oncology holds great promise, it also faces some challenges:

Genetic Complexity: Cancers can be genetically complex, and identifying all relevant mutations may be difficult.

Drug Resistance: Cancer cells can develop resistance to targeted therapies over time.

Cost and Accessibility: Some precision therapies can be expensive, and access to advanced genetic testing and targeted drugs may be limited in certain regions.

Precision Oncology is a crucial component of the future of cancer treatment. As our understanding of cancer genetics and technologies continues to advance, it is likely to play an increasingly significant role in providing more effective and personalized cancer care. However, it may not completely replace traditional treatments but rather complement them to offer more tailored and improved therapeutic options for patients.
Yes, Precision Oncology is an active area of research, and numerous clinical trials are ongoing to explore new targeted therapies and combination treatments. Scientists continue to study the genomic landscape of various cancers to identify potential therapeutic targets and improve patient outcomes.
Precision Oncology and immunotherapy are complementary approaches. While Precision Oncology focuses on identifying specific genetic alterations and molecular targets, immunotherapy enhances the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. In some cases, Precision Oncology may help identify patients who are more likely to respond to immunotherapy.
Precision Oncology has shown significant promise in improving treatment outcomes, but it is essential to recognize that it may not cure all types of cancer. The goal is to provide more effective and personalized treatment options, leading to better disease control and improved quality of life for cancer patients. However, the term “cure” is often challenging to apply to cancer treatment due to the complexity and heterogeneity of the disease.