The Evolution and Clinical Impact of Diagnostic Testing - Episode 4

Applying Personalized Medicine to Impact Outcomes in Different Cancer Types

When research advances in personalized medicine prove the effectiveness of 1 treatment option over others—either in genetically tested populations or diverse ethnic groups—they will allow us the advantage of more effective tailored treatment, according to David C. Collymore, MD, MBA. “This has been seen in breast, prostate, as well as colon cancer,” he said.

“The hope would be that in every form of cancer, we would be able to assess and tailor treatments to the individual. The cost of cancer care is so great, in terms of the economics, as well as the morbidity of the individual going through the treatment…if we can better tailor the treatment to meet the needs of the individual, it would definitely make more sense,” said Dr Collymore.

Beyond these 3 tumor types, Dr Collymore hopes for more advances in the care of pancreatic cancer patients. “If we can impact the morbidity and mortality of pancreatic cancer, it would demonstrate the most dramatic success in terms of personalized medicine. Even with lung cancer, if we could test someone to display their genetic susceptibility to [the disease], we could have a much bigger impact on tobacco cessation numbers,” Dr Collymore said. He explained that if a 20- or 21-year-old person gains the knowledge—through genetic testing—that they are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer; the hope would be that it would instigate more people to stop smoking. “So I think in lung cancer that’d be a great opportunity,” he said.

Another field that could progress with a personalized medicine approach is pediatric oncology. An early genetic assessment of a child and close monitoring over time could help detect cancers, such as leukemia at an earlier stage, according to Dr Collymore.