The goal of Personalizing Cancer Medicine is to deliver the right therapy to the right patient at the right time. This will ultimately involve integrating detailed genomic, proteomic, and clinical attributes of each individual in order to define the best possible treatment approach.
Personalizing Cancer Medicine will be particularly important in the treatment of cancer where the advent of whole genome/exome sequencing, proteomic profiling, and other highly detailed characterization of tumors have demonstrated that there is far more heterogeneity between cancers within the same diagnosis than previously appreciated. In addition, individuals have widely varied responses to chemotherapy and other treatments in terms of both effectiveness and toxicities due to heterogeneity in pharmacokinetics, radiation sensitivity, and other characteristics of the patient.
Lastly, individuals have varying psychosocial factors that may influence compliance, quality of life and other critical aspects of their care. As patients and tumors become better characterized, there will be incremental improvements in defining optimal therapy in terms of both effectiveness and toxicities using tools that can be applied in the clinic and acted on in “real time”.
If this can be achieved, outcomes and quality of life could be dramatically improved. In addition, ineffective therapies could be avoided which in turn could save the health care system and patients considerable resources. If this potential promise could be achieved, it would represent a true revolution in medical care.