The Evolution and Clinical Impact of Diagnostic Testing - Episode 8

Impact of Personalized Medicine on Specific Tumor Types

The impact of personalized medicine has varied based on tumor types and some of the original developments, specifically in genomics and the identification of biomarkers, had a huge impact on breast cancer treatment, Edmund Pezalla, MD, MPH, thinks.

Pezalla believes that personalized medicine has significantly affected outcomes in breast cancer. “With the discovery of HER2, and the identification of HER2-expressing tumors that responded to specific medications has been a big breakthrough and there have been huge improvements in breast cancer because of that and the discovery of other markers,” he said.

In his opinion, we are still in the learning phase for other tumor types, although lung cancer has seen some breakthroughs. A small number of patients who express the right biomarkers for some of the newer oncology drugs on the market are seeing success. “Not cures necessarily, but success in improving [patient] outcomes, their length of life, and their overall survival, because they have been identified as a candidate for that particular drug.”

The impact of personalized medicine, though, has been felt beyond oncology such as in cystic fibrosis, where certain genetic subtypes are treatable so a patient can lead a normal life and maybe even a normal life span, Pezalla said.