Precision medicine (also known as personalised medicine) in oncology represents a new approach with regards to the management of cancer patients.
A tumour is a mass of tissue that is formed from a genetic defect (i.e. in the DNA) that leads to the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is usual to classify tumours according to the area of the organism in which they develop, but scientific research has made it possible to understand that each single mutation of the DNA and the genes involved make each tumour unique.
Personalised tumour therapy
In recent years, many genomic alterations have been discovered (i.e. changes in the gene heritage), which have made it possible to better define tumours precisely in relation to the mutations that give rise to it. This has changed the therapeutic approach over time. In fact, for some types of cancer, molecular oncology has shifted the focus from a medicine focused on the use of non-selective cytotoxic therapies, to therapies tailored to a specific tumour (or targeted therapy), including immunotherapy. Unlike chemotherapy, which acts indiscriminately by eliminating both cancerous and healthy cells, molecular target therapy acts on a precise molecule that is exclusively or particularly concentrated only in the cancer cells.
Genetic tests for tumours
Today there are tests that can produce a sort of tumour “genetic identikit", because they are able to analyse a large number of genes simultaneously and, therefore, to detect DNA mutations responsible for its growth. The information provided by these tests helps the oncologist in choosing the most effective therapies for each individual patient. Currently not all genomic tests are reimbursed by the National Health Service and therefore are not carried out routinely, but can be performed privately or by Scientific Institutes or Research Facilities.
Recourse to this diagnostic approach is valuable if accompanied by the help and guidance of a specialized physician, who carefully assesses the usefulness of the tests and helps the patient to understand the result of the report and its clinical and therapeutic applications.
It is understandable that cancer patients wish to perform such tests in order to gain a better understanding of their disease and explore more promising treatment options. Private access to the test facilitates personal initiative, but it is advisable to be guided and accompanied through this process. It is necessary to scrupulously and carefully evaluate how useful the tests are for each patient so as not to undergo unnecessary tests.
Project ASK THE EXPERT
Ultraspecialisti, in its Project dedicated to Precision Medicine, has formed a Board of expert Oncologists free of charge for patients suffering from: Cerebral, Pulmonary, Mammary, Prostate, Bladder, Kidney, Gynecological Cancer, Melanoma, Colon, Cancer of the Cervical-Facial District, Sarcomas and Cancer of Unknown Origin.
It is therefore possible to have an opinion on the report obtained by the Foundation Medicine of Roche free of charge through the Area of Precision Medicine (request the free voucher available by writing to email@example.com)