No. 2 Innovation: Cancer Treatment Gets Personal (Video)

Genomics tests save lives, reduce unnecessary treatment

Genomics testing

Cleveland Clinic asked more than 100 of its top experts about the innovations set to reshape healthcare in the coming year. These are their answers — the Top 10 Innovations for 2014.

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Too often, men and women hear the words “prostate cancer,” “breast cancer,” or “colorectal cancer” from their doctor and immediately think the worst.

However, many times the aggressive therapies patients are offered — or that they demand — are unnecessary. In some cases, very aggressive treatments can even do more harm than good.

New genomic-based tests make decisions about treatment smarter, easier and more reliable.

The age of precision medicine

Genomics focuses on groups of genes and how they interact in cells, as well as the role they play in health and disease. Tests based on this growing science can analyze the genes in a person’s tumor to predict how it will behave.

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The goal of these tests to avoid aggressive treatment when it is not needed and save lives when it is.

For certain breast cancer cases, a genomic test helps identify women who need chemotherapy in addition to hormonal therapy and those who can benefit from hormonal therapy alone. For early-stage colorectal cancer, a test looks at the gene activity in a tumor sample to predict the risk of cancer recurrence within three years.

The goal is to avoid aggressive treatment when it is not needed and save lives when it is.

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an innovative addition to this genomic toolbox. A new prostate cancer test determines how aggressive cancer is based on the biology of a man’s individual tumor.

The prostate cancer test triples the number of patients who can confidently consider “active surveillance.” This treatment plan involves careful monitoring and avoids unnecessary treatment and side effects. The test also identifies a smaller number of patients with aggressive cancer who need immediate treatment.

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It’s a new age of cancer diagnosis and precision medicine, all based on biology and individual needs.

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