Choosing a standard or conventional treatment means your oncologist will probably start with the most commonly used treatment for your type of cancer, based on the NCCN Guidelines. If that treatment doesn’t control your cancer, you and your oncologist will move on to the next most common option, and continue to do so until you have found a therapy that works for you. This approach works for some patients, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Some patients end up exhausting all of the standard options because their cancers do not respond to any of them. Or perhaps some of the drugs worked for a little while, but proved ineffective over time.
This is where precision medicine comes in. Advances in understanding of cancer disease markers (also known as biomarkers) have led to the development of precision medicine tools that can help doctors personalize therapy based on the unique molecular characteristics of individual patients’ cancers. This strategy may increase the chances of selecting an effective treatment and improve patient outcomes.
By allowing doctors to take a closer look at your cancer cells, precision medicine can help them identify biomarkers that indicate molecular abnormalities and other changes taking place within the cells. This approach, known as molecular profiling, can help your doctor evaluate potential treatment options that target the specific changes observed in your cancer cells. The added knowledge can give them a better understanding of how your cancer may respond to therapy. Two recent cancer studies show that treatment guided by biomarker testing with molecular profiling can improve clinical outcomes.1,2
* For the purposes of the chart above, “treatment” is intended to represent treatment(s) selected which may be one or more therapies in combination. Treatment guidelines are provided by the NCCN, based on prospective clinical trial results. Molecular profiling is not used to prescribe treatment and only provides information from published research on biomarker/drug response associations. Treatment selection can only be made by a physician.