rapid advances of the molecular pathways that underlie cancer combined with an expansion of the tools at our disposal to diagnose and treat based on these specific genomic features has paved the way for precision medicine in cancer and other diseases. and as we continue to expand our knowledge and understanding and as more advances are made using genetic insights, technological advances and a better understanding of the tumour microenvironment, precision medicine will become the only way to deliver healthcare. allowing patient interventions to be tailored based on disease susceptibility, diagnostic or prognostic information, or treatment response. so what we will see is rather than treating specific tumours [eg.breast, colorectal, skin or lung for example] patients will be treated based on the genomic drivers of the presenting tumour. this has implications not only in better identifying best treatment options for patients in first line and better patient outcomes, including extended survival and improved quality of life[QoL]it also has important implications related to efficiency and savings for our healthcare systems
biomarkers represent an important first step in the move towards more personalized medicine in cancer. the World Health Organization [WHO] suggesting that“a biomarker is any substance, structure or process that can be measured in the body or its products and influence or predict the incidence of outcome or disease. a cancer biomarker may measure the risk of developing cancer in a specific tissue or, alternatively, may measure risk of cancer progression or potential response to therapy. besides providing useful information in guiding clinical decision making, cancer biomarkers are increasingly linked to specific molecular pathways that can justify specific therapeutic strategies. 1 biomarkers represent an essential component in realizing personalized medicine, which creates a targeted approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
innovation in precision medicine promises substantial benefits but will change the way in which some health services are delivered and evaluated. and before we can fully realize the potential of personalized medicine in the future, we must be able to overcome the regulatory, reimbursement and access challenges present today and create a system that is ready and able to respond to this exploding field, which promises to be the future.
while the first precision medicine awareness month in canada has come to a close the cancer collaborative’s mission to improve awareness of and access to personalized medicine is only just beginning.