The terms “personalized medicine” and “precision medicine” are often used interchangeably to describe the ability to tailor treatments to an individual patient based on the unique characteristics of his or her disease. Precision medicine in oncology relies on the unique molecular profile of a patient’s tumor for optimal treatment selection. In contrast, standard treatment is based largely on the location where the tumor originated, such as the breast or lungs, and may not always produce optimal results.
In recent years, increasing numbers of oncologists have adopted precision medicine as a treatment approach for various cancers that have historically been characterized and treated based on body location. This approach has been aided by the development of molecular profiling that can help doctors personalize treatment plans for individual patients. A molecular profile reveals unique characteristics of a person’s disease at the molecular level, providing doctors with knowledge about which treatments are most likely to produce the best results, including treatments that may not have been previously considered. Molecular profiling may also help patients avoid treatments that are ineffective, unnecessary, and potentially harmful.