Tumors Are Unique — Treatments Should Be, Too

New study analyzes tumor genomics

Paper dolls

Like the people they affect, each and every tumor is unique.

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Because of this, a “one size fits all” approach to cancer treatment does not work, especially in the most challenging cases. But cancer treatment is changing. Understanding each tumor’s unique composition is leading to treatments based on each individual’s needs.

This understanding comes through somatic genomics. For example, Cleveland Clinic is offering qualified cancer patients the opportunity to have their tumors analyzed in a genomic study. The results will add to our growing understanding of how tumors behave and how that behavior can be changed.

Think of tumors as living, changing things. Genomic analysis can tell us how they grow, change and spread.

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When you hear “genomics,” you may think of research that focuses on the DNA of people. Somatic genomics is different. Rather than focusing on our own genetics, somatic genomics looks at the genetics of tumors.

Think of tumors as living, changing things. Genomic analysis can tell us how they grow, change and spread.

Your chance to help

In the Cleveland Clinic study, patients’ tissue samples will be sent to molecular testing company Foundation Medicine for targeted genetic sequencing. The 15 types of tumors in this study — including certain breast, bladder and prostate cancers — have a historically poor prognosis. Patients have limited treatment options.

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This study and others like it aim to improve prognosis and expand treatment options.

Foundation Medicine will test each tumor for more than 230 cancer-related genes. Once the analysis is complete, an independent team of Taussig Cancer Institute oncologists will review the results and recommend a personalized treatment plan for each patient. Such a plan may include chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapies and participation in clinical trials as appropriate.

In other words, this study can help patients who truly need better options now. In turn, these patients will be contributing to research and understanding that will help countless others in the future.


Brian J. Bolwell, MD

Brian J. Bolwell, MD, is an international leader in bone marrow transplantation and managing cancers that affect the blood. Dr. Bolwell is Chairman of the Taussig Cancer Institute.
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