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Front Oncol. 2016 Apr 27;6:106. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2016.00106. eCollection 2016.

Confronting the Care Delivery Challenges Arising from Precision Medicine.

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Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, Division of Cancer Therapy and Diagnosis, National Cancer Institute , Rockville, MD , USA.


Understanding the biology of cancer at the cellular and molecular levels, and the application of such knowledge to the patient, has opened new opportunities and uncovered new obstacles to quality cancer care delivery. Benefits include our ability to now understand that many, if not most, cancers are not one-size-fits-all. Cancers are a variety of diseases for which intervention may be very different. This approach is beginning to bear fruit in gynecologic cancers where we are investigating therapeutic optimization at a more focused level, that while not yet precision care, is perhaps much improved. Obstacles to quality care for patients come from many directions. These include incomplete understanding of the role of the mutant proteins in the cancers, the narrow spectrum of agents, broader mutational profiles in solid tumors, and sometimes overzealous application of the findings of genetic testing. This has been further compromised by the unbridled use of social media by all stakeholders in cancer care often without scientific qualification, where anecdote sometimes masquerades as a fact. The only current remedy is to wave the flag of caution, encourage all patients who undergo genetic testing, either germline or somatic, to do so with the oversight of genetic counselors and physician scientists knowledgeable in the pathways involved. This aspiration is accomplished with well-designed clinical trials that inform next steps in this complex and ever evolving process.


biomarkers; genetic testing; obstacles; opportunities; precision medicine; targets

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