Advances in the management of cancer are rapidly evolving due to the science of genetics, genomics, and epigenomics. Our understanding of cancer is changing based on an increasing number of unique identifiable genetic abnormalities that both drive the growth of cancer cells and can be targeted with precision medicines and immunotherapy. In addition, social media is changing the way you access and share information and find support, but most genomic advances necessary for personalized cancer care don’t find their way into social communities in a timely manner. The PMF Ask the Expert program and Cancer First Call can help you learn more about personalized medicine and determine if breakthrough medicine could impact your treatment options.
Thirty years ago, for example, all lung cancers were treated uniformly with chemotherapy. Undergoing chemotherapy was a lonely and isolating experience. Today there are over a dozen precision cancer medicines and immune-therapies that target unique genomic aspects of an individual’s lung cancer and the number of these medicines is expected to steadily increase as researchers continue to unwind the genetic mysteries that cause cells to become cancerous. Moreover, the evolution of social communities allows cancer patients and their caregivers to more readily share this information and support, yet the majority of cancer patients are neither aware of these treatments nor do they receive them.
Lung and other cancers will eventually be identified more by their precision, cancer-medicine-targetable, and unique genomic abnormalities than their physical locations in the body. Currently these factors impact the way we treat the cancer but eventually they will change the way we diagnose and ultimately manage cancer.
Another major advancement in the diagnosis of cancer is the advent of “liquid biopsies” by which patients will increasingly be diagnosed by a blood test instead of an invasive surgery, and their response to treatment will be monitored by these tests, not expensive MRI, CT and PET imaging. On the treatment front, genomic-based disease management is also occurring for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-mediated diseases.
The current health care delivery, education, support, and payment system is focused on a historical definition of cancer and is not designed to meet the evolving needs of individual cancer patients as the shift to a more personalized diagnosis and treatment occurs.
The PMF has created a network of leading precision medicine specialists from the top US cancer centers accessible by Cancer Information Specialists working for the PMF under the supervision of Dr. C.H. Weaver. As the Managing Editor of several patient-focused cancer educational publications and social networks, Dr. Weaver is uniquely qualified to oversee this effort. For the past 30 years he has worked with the leading cancer centers and doctors in the US to develop educational programs designed to empower cancer patients to seek the best personalized cancer care.
At the Personalized Medicine Foundation, we’re on a mission to empower cancer patients through information, support and community. Progress in genetics, genomics and precision medicines are rapidly changing optimal diagnosis and treatment. At PMF, we want to support all patients in their understanding of how these advances could impact their treatment options