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November 15, 2021

What is precision medicine for cancer care?

Precision medicine for cancer care uses tests to find the right treatment for a person based on their specific genes, environment, and lifestyle. Get the basics on this innovative approach to cancer care.

Everyone has their own unique genes, environment, and lifestyle. Altogether, these factors can influence their health, determine if they develop cancer, and affect the symptoms they experience. By deeply understanding these differences, scientists can develop potentially more-effective treatments.1

We now know that cancer isn't one disease and a medicine that works for somebody won't work for everybody. Those facing a cancer diagnosis today can undergo detailed tests to find out how the genes in their cancer cells might affect treatment.1,2

Precision medicine for care, also called personalized medicine, enables oncologists to match treatments to specific diseases, leading to the best-possible outcomes while minimizing side effects.1,2

Why pursue precision medicine for cancer care?2

  • Inaccurate cancer diagnoses do occur and can cause serious consequences.
  • Testing can improve the accuracy of diagnoses.
  • A more accurate diagnosis can help inform treatment decisions to help improve care.

For different cancer types including rare and complex cancers

Those who aren't benefiting from a traditional cancer treatment might want to explore precision medicine—particularly, if you have any of these cancers2:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Certain types of leukemia
  • Certain types of lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Learn more about the benefits and types of precision medicine


Costs and savings

Precision medicine can be expensive, especially if health insurance doesn't cover it, but it could also lower costs in other ways. By helping doctors choose the right tests and optimize treatment plans, precision medicine can help patients avoid the unnecessary costs of ineffective treatments and suboptimal outcomes.2

Last updated November 15, 2021

This post was authored by AccessHope and medically reviewed by Dr. Howard 'Jack' West.

References
 
1 What is precision medicine? WebMD Cancer Center Web site. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/precision-medicine. Published July 19, 2020. Accessed August 4, 2021.
 
2 Precision or personalized medicine. American Cancer Society Web site. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/precision-medicine.html. Updated April 24, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2021.

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