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How does Precision Cancer Medicine work?
The purpose of precision cancer medicine is not to categorize or classify cancers solely by site of origin, but to define the genomic alterations that are driving that cancer. Even if an alteration occurs in a given cancer type only 1 percent of the time, and you can provide an effective treatment option for those specific patients, it’s incredibly enabling and powerful.
Precision Medicine as a Treatment Approach
Even though researchers are making progress every day, the precision medicine approach to cancer treatment is not yet part of routine care for most patients. Many new treatments designed to target a specific change are being tested right now in precision medicine clinical trials. Some clinical trials are accepting patients with specific types and stages of cancer. Others accept patients with a variety of cancer types and stages. To be eligible for precision medicine trials, your tumor must have a genetic change that can be targeted by a treatment being tested.
How Genetic Changes in Your Cancer Are Identified
To figure out which genetic changes are in your cancer, you may need to have a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which your doctor removes a sample of the cancer. This sample will be sent to a special lab, where a machine called a DNA sequencer looks for genetic changes that may be causing the cancer to grow. The process of looking for genetic changes in cancer may be called DNA sequencing, genomic testing, molecular profiling, or tumor profiling.