Customizing Your TreatmentPrecision medicine (also called “personalized medicine”) has changed the way doctors care for people with cancer. We design treatments based on genetic changes and underlying factors that are driving the growth of your tumor. By practicing precision medicine and studying how your cancer is growing and spreading, we are able to develop a treatment plan that zeroes in on the specific changes that are fueling your disease.
Why Precision Medicine is Important
Patients who have the same type and stage of cancer have all traditionally received the same treatment. However, due to genetic changes and other underlying factors, some patients have responded well to therapy and others have not.
With precision medicine, we can now analyze your tumor to pinpoint the molecular changes driving that cancer’s growth. With this information in hand, we can:
- Accurately match you with the drug or therapy that would be most effective
- Avoid a drug or therapy that may not be effective against the tumor, sparing you from potential side effects and reducing the cost of care
- Confirm a diagnosis
- Learn about a tumor’s behavior, such as rate of growth
The Precision Medicine Process
Our specialists first take a tissue sample (biopsy) or blood sample from you. These samples are sent to a lab where our scientists look for genetic changes related to your cancer. This is called genomics testing, molecular profiling, or tumor profiling and it gives our doctors the information we need to choose the best treatment for you.
Precision Medicine and Clinical Trials
Clinical researchers at John Theurer Cancer Center and elsewhere may use precision medicine approaches to select the patients most likely to benefit from a new treatment being assessed in a clinical trial.
For example, if a new drug targets a specific protein on the surface of cancer cells, you may need to have that protein on your tumor cell in order to enroll in the study.
Precision medicine can therefore expedite cancer research by eliminating patients who are not likely to benefit from an investigational drug, yielding study results that support the drug’s effectiveness and clarifying the medication’s most appropriate indication. It could even lead to faster drug approvals.
Examples of Precision Medicine in Practice
Precision medicine has led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of many treatments for cancers with specific genetic and molecular changes.
Here are just a few examples:
- Crizotinib (Xalkori®) for patients with non-small cell lung cancer that contains a mutation in the ROS or ALK genes
- Dabrafenib (Tafinlar®) and trametinib (Mekinist®) for patients with melanoma containing a specific mutation in the BRAF gene
- Imatinib (Gleevec®) for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) that contains a genetic abnormality called the “Philadelphia chromosome”
- Trastuzumab (Herceptin®) for patients with breast cancer that produces high levels of a protein called HER2
Why Choose Hackensack Meridian Health
Leading Edge Care
Our cancer experts specialize in the latest technologies and treatments, including robotic-assisted surgery, ultra-targeted radiation therapy and precision medicine, which matches you with the most effective anticancer drugs based on your genetics.
Two of our locations have on-site laboratories that conduct genomic profiling in real-time, ensuring physicians can provide personalized therapies quicker.