Precision Medicine in Oncology– A New Era of Cancer Care: Dr Niti Raizada

Precision Medicine in Oncology -- A New Era of Cancer Care: Dr Niti Raizada

Dr Niti Raizada, Senior Director, Medical Oncology and Hemato Oncology, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru said that, ‘Cancer is now recognized as a kaleidoscope of distinct malignancies, each propelled by individual genetic and molecular aberrations. This revelation has sparked the dawn of precision medicine in oncology, a transformative approach that envisions tailoring cancer treatments to the unique genetic composition of each patient’s tumor, heralding a paradigm shift in therapeutic strategies against this multifaceted disease.’

The Tailored Treatments

In the realm of cancer care, the traditional approach has long adhered to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy based on the cancer’s type and stage. This conventional method often results in treatments that prove ineffective and bring about unnecessary side effects. In contrast, precision medicine employs a targeted approach utilizing genetic and molecular testing to discern the specific drivers of a patient’s cancer. This allows for the selection of therapies with enhanced efficacy and reduced toxicity, marking a departure from the limitations of the traditional model.

Pillars of Precision Oncology

The pillars of precision oncology rest upon three crucial components. Genomic testing plays a pivotal role, involving the identification of mutations, rearrangements, and other genetic alterations within tumor cells. This detailed genetic information provides insights into the specific characteristics of a patient’s cancer, guiding subsequent treatment decisions. Additionally, targeted therapies form a cornerstone, designed to disrupt the molecular pathways that propel cancer growth and survival. These drugs are tailored to the specific genetic abnormalities identified through genomic testing, resulting in treatments that are not only more effective but also less likely to cause adverse side effects. Biomarkers, serving as molecules or indicators, contribute to the precision of therapeutic interventions by predicting a patient’s response to treatment.

The scenario of Precision Medicine

Numerous success stories underscore the transformative potential of precision medicine. Imatinib, a targeted therapy for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) stands out as a beacon of success turning CML from a virtually incurable disease into one with near-normal life expectancy. Similarly, EGFR inhibitors for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and PARP inhibitors for ovarian cancer have demonstrated significant advancements in personalized treatment approaches.

Challenges and Future Directions

The cost and accessibility of genomic testing and targeted therapies remain significant hurdles, potentially creating disparities in access to these cutting-edge advancements. Tumor heterogeneity, where tumors can harbor diverse genetic populations, presents a challenge in identifying a single actionable target. Furthermore, the emergence of resistance to targeted therapies among cancer cells necessitates ongoing research and the development of new treatment strategies to overcome this obstacle.

Despite these challenges, the future of oncology is undoubtedly shaped by precision medicine. The ongoing commitment to research and development holds the promise of even more effective and personalized treatments, offering hope for a future where cancer is not a death sentence but a manageable chronic disease. Precision medicine stands as a beacon, guiding the evolution of cancer care towards a more tailored, effective and hopeful future.

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