Answering Questions about Genomics and Personalized Medicine

Genomics is transforming cancer care today. Cancer researchers and clinicians are using molecularly targeted agents, biomarkers and genetics to better tailor cancer treatments to individual patients.

Dr. Cristofanilli

Dr. Cristofanilli

Medical oncologist Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP, an internationally renowned breast cancer researcher and clinician, appointed Director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center and Deputy Director of Translational Research at the Center at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center,  seeks to improve personalized medicine for cancer patients using numerous genomic approaches.

Dr. Cristofanilli recently participated in an ABC News tweet chat during which chief medical and health editor Richard Besser, MD raised a series of questions on personalized medicine and genomics.

You can find the entire string of tweets on Twitter using the hashtag #abcDrBchat. Below are some of the questions and Dr. Cristofanilli’s answers.

Question: What is personalized or precision cancer medicine?

Dr. Cristofanilli: It is the use of advanced diagnostics to identify potential effective therapies for an individual tumor with benefit a specific patient.

Question: Are we making progress with cancer genomics and targeted therapy? Where is there hope and where is there hype?

Dr. Cristofanilli: We are making progress but we need a coordinated process to move smoothly from genomics to targeted therapy and including patients in the planning.

Question: Any cancers for which personalized treatment is widely accepted? What will cancer treatment look like 20 years from now?

Dr. Cristofanilli: Clinicians routinely use genomic tests for melanoma, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. In the future a blood sample will identify risk, treatments and prognosis for cancer patients.

Question: Are we learning things from cancer genomics that will help prevent cancer?

Dr. Cristofanilli: Improved knowledge of individual tumor biology generates population data for understanding cancerogenesis and prevention. Cancer is a disease of altered gene regulation. Hereditary, environmental factors direct preventive interventions.

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