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Personalized Medicine & You

CISN Summary

The term “cancer” refers to more than 100 different diseases. For most cancers, the molecular characteristics have not yet been fully classified, nor are there known or validated markers for early detection, treatment planning, or targeted therapy.

A cancer diagnosis is still based largely on structural and functional (morphological) examination of tumor biopsy specimens. Yet this approach has significant limitations in predicting a specific tumor's potential for progression and response to treatment. Personalized medicine hopes to change this.

Personalized medicine includes clinical, 'OMIC,' and environmental information

Again, remember that personalized medicine is “about you.” This includes all of your traditional clinical medical information, combined with your 'OMIC' information, and is influenced by your interaction with your environment.

Personalized medicine will address
the following issues:

  • “Risk assessment – what is your risk of developing cancer in your lifetime?
  • Screening – do you have cancer?
  • Differential diagnostics – what is the precise classification of my cancer?
  • Prognosis and staging – compared to other people in my classification, how aggressive is my cancer, and what are the implications for treatment?
  • Treatment selection – how do a range of therapies compare for me with respect to efficacy and safety?
  • Treatment monitoring – is my therapy having the desired effect with acceptable toxicity and optimal quality of life?
  • Surveillance – is there still no evidence of disease?”

Quote from:

Personalized Medicine
Recently Diagnosed
Cancer 101

  Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • Is there a targeted therapy for my type and stage of cancer?
  • Are there any specific tumor marker tests that you would recommend in my case?
  • Have you already had any tumor marker tests conducted for me?
  • How are these tests performed?
  • If I should in fact have these tests, how often should I have them?
  • If I have abnormal levels of a particular tumor marker, what does that mean?
  • Would having elevated levels affect my treatment?
  • Do you recommend using tumor markers in my follow-up care?
  • Is it possible for me to donate my tumor tissue for future research?

Tumor markers are recognized as a promising tool that may lead to early diagnoses of cancers and more targeted treatments.

  1. Ginsburg, GS, Willard, H. Geomic and Personalized Medicine, Foundation and Application. Transl Res.2009 Dec.154(6):277-877 Epub 2009 Oct 1.
  2. Baselga, J. Personalized Medicine: Are we Hunting for the Holy Grail? Personalized Medicine in the Future. 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress. Abstract 2 – Presented September 24th, 2011
  3. Mills, GB. Challenges to implementation of personalized cancer therapy. 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress. Abstract 3 – Presented September 24th ,2011
  4. American Cancer Society:

ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

ACS Eat Healthy and Get Active Section


Chatterjee, S. Cancer Biomarker: Knowing the Present and Predicting the Future (Fut. Oncology 2005)

Curtis, C etal, Nature doi:10.1038/Nature 10983,2012

Khoury, MJ etal, Health Affairs Nov/Dec 2008 27/6/1600+1611

Mayo Clinic

National Cancer Institute BRCA1 and BRCA2 Fact Sheet NCI website

National Cancer Institute website Definition of Personalized Medicine

The Case for Personalized Medicine – 3rd Edition.

University of Oxford



“Content Developed September 1, 2012”


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